File Image: IOL
File Image: IOL

Remarkable future awaits with exponential growth in technologies

By Edward West Time of article published Jun 9, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - The next decade will likely be the most remarkable experienced due to exponential growth and convergence in new technologies and fixed investment, according to Old Mutual investment director of Investments Hywel George.

He said in an online webinar about global long-term investment trends - investing for at least 10 years or more - that there were at least five key areas likely to experience exponential growth: technology, health and health care, renewable energy, space and inflation.

On the technology front, the performance of the silicon chip had already doubled every 20 years, and with silicon now reaching the end of its potential to develop any further, graphene was likely to replace silicon and further drive chip development, he said.

The technology this would drive included AI, robotics, 5G, satellites, gene editing, autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, quantum computers and quantum computing power, facial and speech recognition, and virtual and augmented reality, such as for Xcross devices, and working from home (which had already been sped up by the Covid-19 pandemic).

In health care, such was the pace of change that by 2030, UK life expectancy was expected to reach the “escape velocity of life expectancy” where one would theoretically be able to live forever.

In Texas, in the US, AI technology was being used to make rulings on prisoners, while in China AI was being used in hospitals to decide whether it was of benefit to wake somebody from a coma or not.

He said China was establishing millions of CCTV cameras with facial recognition technology, and the country had instituted a computerised social credit score system to identify who was or wasn’t trustworthy, with no recourse if one’s score is low.

Technology companies such as Amazon were venturing into other consumer goods markets with their own branded products, such as shoes, skin care products, golf and batteries, because if one used a virtual assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa, one doesn’t usually ask for batteries of a certain brand to be delivered which had created a market for Amazon to sell batteries under its own brand, said George.

He said XR technology, cross reality devices, where one looked through a screen rather than at it and allowed one to see the world in augmented reality, was likely to replace all devices in a relatively short period, while holoportation, involving the teleportation of a holographic image of somebody, would also become more common.

In renewable energy, autonomous electric vehicles were already proving to be safer than human drivers, while using an autonomous vehicle effectively cut an Uber fare by half by removing the driver’s portion of the fare.

Solar and wind power generation costs had dropped dramatically, and the use of wind power had grown fivefold in 10 years and the use of solar power had grown 30 times over the same period.

George said in time South Africa would cost-effectively replace coal power plants with solar and wind power and the country would benefit from having among the most abundant of these resources in the world.

He said space would be an attractive investment in the long term, as the moon and asteroids had the necessary minerals to establish human colonies in space, as opposed to the current, very difficult and costly process of rocketing these resources into space. Elon Musk’s A Plan was to establish colonies in space.

George said the next decade was likely to also feature higher inflation as governments would need to inflate themselves out of the current situation where money supply growth had exploded and through government debt monetisation.

He said the next decade and more would feature a very different world for our children due to the convergence of these new technologies with, for example, adults being able to live to the age of 200, children being educated in completely different ways and their children would probably never drive a car, and might travel to space.

BUSINESS REPORT 

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