Technology: investing in the future

There is no doubt that in the next 20 – 30 years technology is going to change our lives beyond imagination. It’s already impacting on social life, education, health, banking, lifestyle, transportation, business, city planning, energy, fashion, food production – and even ultimately our plans to reach for the stars through space travel.

As the largest single segment of the investment market, technology presents major opportunities for those who value the continual and steady progress of innovation and invention – and how these advancements are changing our lives through higher quality, greater productivity and increased profitability.

Technologies of the future that are happening now

Change is happening so fast and on such broad scale that it’s difficult to keep up, let alone be sure of where best to invest. The boundaries between people, the internet, real and virtual reality are converging in a perfect storm of digital, physical and biological advancements. The technological revolution may even end up questioning what it means to be human.

Health: The biomedical evolution includes advances in reconstructive joint replacements, spinal implants, cardiovascular implants, dental implants, intraocular lens, and breast implants. Not to mention the capability of rebuilding parts of the body using stem cell technology to literally ‘remake’ organs in exact matches to a patient’s body. Advances such as CRISPR/Cas9 which can make specific changes to specific genes in living cells, is easy to use and cost efficient. It can reverse mutations that cause blindness and stop cancer cells from multiplying.

Bio-enhancements: Not only will we slowly beat back disease, but we’ll also evolve as human beings – technically. The world of bio-enhancements is on its way with digital implants, mind-controlled exo-skeletal upgrades, age reversal pills, hyper-intelligence brain implants and bionic muscle upgrades. Will we all be beautiful in 20 years time? Looks like our local GP may have to shift sights…

Agriculture: CRISPR/Cas9 is a key factor in reprogramming wheat to become impervious to fungi and is used to re-engineer crops to withstand drought. These technologies are vital to feeding the growing masses on the planet and eliminating starvation. In addition to advancements in changing genetic codes, there is also the inspirational move to indoor farming where the use of herbicides and pesticides becomes unnecessary. Indoor farms grow plants more quickly through LED lighting which targets each plant’s unique requirements. It means more food grown faster, safer and healthier. Expanding cities, population explosion and climate change are driving this remarkable sector which shows every possibility for exponential growth.

A waterless world: Those that worry that we are living in an increasingly water scarce world may be comforted by the new development of Atmospheric Water Harvesting technology. This works by collecting water and moisture from the atmosphere using micro netting. These nets then drain the water down into a collection chamber. This is fresh, pure water literally distilled from the atmosphere which can then be used in homes or on farms.

Space invasion: In 2015 we learned how to land rockets back on Earth. No mean feat. And it means that getting things into space will be easier and cheaper – and this will affect our lives in all sorts of ways. Cheaper access to space means more satellites, better telecommunications networks and, hopefully, more accurate weather predictions. What we will be able to build for our earthly advantage in space, is now open for investigation – and possibilities include space stations, telescopes to look into deep space, or even space-based solar panels that beam unlimited electricity to Earth.

Drones: Drones are now everywhere, almost commonplace. And it’s happened very fast. A year ago it seemed a dream of fiction. This means the tech is still young and who knows where we will be in another year or two. They are already working in filmmaking, surveillance, land management, agriculture, and package delivery. The impact on the future of shipping is going to be dramatic.

Artificial Intelligence: The robot revolution is well underway. Worldwide shipments of multipurpose robots superseded the 200,000 mark in 2015. Robots are predicted to become accessories in homes, offices, factories, restaurants, hospitals and hotels within the next 5 years, operating as personal servants, assistants and caretakers. Robots can make pizza, serve beer, scan our faces for diseases, and drive motor vehicles.

Wearable technology: There are now apps that can track how much you eat, sleep and exercise. In future you will ask your doctor a question by tapping into your smartphone. Our concept of visual entertainment will shift. Information will be attached to our heads via smart contact lenses, smart glasses, VR headsets – and much will be found on our wrists with our watches doing way more than just telling the time. Technology is moving away from hand-held devices.

3D Printing: 3D Printing can literally make any three-dimensional object from a digital file using a special printer. The materials can be anything, from plastic to metal, and even human cells. 3D is already in use in a host of sectors such as healthcare, fashion, auto industry, product design, road making, etc. The printer lays down the object as instructed by the computer drawing, layer by layer until the entire object appears. Today we already have 3D printers that can print clothing, circuit boards, furniture, homes and chocolate. And soon, cars. Fashion: A new Field Guided Fabrication 3D printer called Electroloom will allow anyone to create seamless fabric items on demand. The impact on the retail industry may well be earth-shattering.

 The dangers of investing in technology

Options are many and bewildering. So, which sector in the technology industries will you choose? Like any investment, there is always an element of risk – and possibly in the fast-change world of technology there is greater risk than in tried and tested sectors. But some of those very stable areas may actually be under threat from ever-new and technically brilliant inventions. Perhaps the answer then is a fair number of eggs in a wide range of baskets.

In the canny view of Warren Buffett who was wary of investing in technology because of its constantly changing landscape – the money doesn’t lie in the industry or the invention itself, but in the competitive advantage of any given company, and the durability of that advantage. Vision and the art of business are still ultimately what counts. So scrutinise and choose wisely.

Tracking the future

At Foster Wealth we understand that all investments are about the future. The future of your personal portfolio is our focus. The development of science and technology presents a vast amount of new opportunities in innovation and the unexplored. Preserving capital is one thing, beating inflation is another. But having an eye for invention and a fast-changing humanity is vital to both the venturesome investor and the cautious – because however you invest, the future is where the benefits will be reaped.

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