By and large, it would appear that technology is a pretty safe sector to spend one’s money on…and yet, it isn’t, all at the same time. While it might seem like a no-brainer to the beginning investor–after all, technology isn’t going anywhere, and is typically a pretty big cash cow–one also has to be extremely careful about the type of technology in which they are investing. After all, technology doesn’t always become the hockey-stick darling that people hype it up to be before release. Sometimes, even technology that has been around for a while and looks extremely promising can fall flat on its face when confronted with the market (think Facebook, Snapchat…may their IPO launches rest in peace).
Artificial intelligence is one of those technological concepts that has been around for a lot longer than people realize. While Isaac Asimov was putting together rules in the 1950s that would eventually govern the creation and management of artificial intelligence, it didn’t seem that far off–if we could dream it, why couldn’t we do it? And although many of us were disappointed in the early 2000s that we still didn’t have in-home Rosie the Robots or even flying hovercrafts, it seems that we are closer than ever to having artificial intelligence that takes up our daily lives.
While the last couple of years have been primed for investing in the Internet of Things (IoT, to include wearables and connected homes and cars), the next few years will absolutely be years to focus on–and get ahead of–artificial intelligence. With everything from driverless cars to in-home robots, here are some specific types of AI to keep your eyes on:
- Your phone. Between Siri and Cortana, your phone (and your tablet or computer) started off being able to tell you directions, get a phone number to your favorite pho place, and tell you the score of the NCAA playoff games. Their capabilities have now expanded to so much more, to include determining your calorie intake throughout the day, calling a Lyft or Uber for you, and identify your specific, individual voice in doing so. Others are getting into the game, too: watch out for Samsung’s new virtual assistant coming into the ring, as well as all the updates Facebook is giving to Messenger (many of which are in limited-audience beta testing) that will allow you to do the same things from any device.
- Your car. Not only will you likely, in the future, have one of the aforementioned virtual assistants integrated into your car, your car will also likely be doing all the driving for you. In the next three years, there will be an anticipated 10 million driverless cars on the road. The move will be a game-changer in terms of traffic accidents, distracted driving, and efficient travel.
- Your customer service experiences. Thousands of companies worldwide have been harnessing the power of live chat as a customer service portal on their websites. Realizing that chat sessions are more real-time and more efficient than trying to take on one phone call at a time, companies are saving time and listening to customer frustrations by offering representatives to talk to where the customer is at most often: their computer. Now, however, many companies are moving toward automated chatbots to answer basic customer concerns that would normally be covered on an FAQ page: what’s my account balance? How do I reset my password? Where is your nearest location? Instead of requiring several steps for a user to look this information up on a website, they can engage with the chatbots who have automated responses to certain questions, saving live chat reps for the more complicated stuff.
- Your home. Alexa is here to stay, folks–and her power is maximized in an already-connected home. Set timers, hail rideshares, play music or audiobooks, hear the news, the weather, and more, all from the comfort of your own home. Alexa isn’t the only one on the playground, of course: Google Home is perfecting their own in-home, at-your-service AI assistant for your every need.
These are just a few of the ways that AI is taking over our lives in big ways. If you’re looking to invest in a technology type that is here to stay and will only get smarter and more integrated into our worlds as time goes on, artificial intelligence is a fairly safe bet. Feel like a gamble? Check out NVIDIA, a company with an excellent leg up on autonomous cars, but with a controversial valuation. Want to play it a bit safer? Stick with companies like Apple, Google, Tesla, or Amazon, all of whom have proven their worth in the early rounds of the AI game with no signs of stopping.