In September 2021, Bank of America released a 152-page research report identifying 14 technology 'moonshots'. These are 14 "radical technologies that could change our lives and accelerate the impact of global megatrends."
This research report could make a good starting point for investors who like to visualize a big-picture view of the future. While potentially outdated, the report pinpoints 14 potential growth areas with a $330 billion market size at the time of publication, that could grow to $6.4 trillion by the 2030s. These ideas are in no way obsolete and may make an intriguing jumping-off point for future tech investing.
These "moonshots" are not just futuristic concepts; they are imminent technological revolutions that could redefine industries and accelerate global megatrends.
In the report, 14 technologies are split into four categories: Computational Tech, Human Tech, Consumer Tech and green Tech.
The Computational Technology category includes 6G telecom networks, Brain Computer Interfaces, and Emotional AI.
While 5G is still being rolled out in the Western world, it's believed it will need to be replaced by the next generation 6G within ten years.
Industry is rapidly investing in next-generation connectivity, mainly 5G. Telecoms stalwart Nokia doesn't expect 6G to start hitting the market until 2030. In the meantime, there are two to three years until 5G peaks.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will be possible with the combination of 5G and cloud and artificial intelligence. This will then be enhanced and further stabilized with 6G.
In early 2022, the Chinese government outlined plans to accelerate the development of 6G up to 2025 through the IMT-2030 (6G) Promotion Group.
In the race to develop the next generation of wireless technology, 6G, many companies and organizations are investing in research and development. According to a 2022 blog post by Nokia Bell Labs, there are already many projects working in the 6G space globally, with major consortiums in Europe and Asia specifically addressing the new standard.
While Samsung outlined its 6G vision in 2021, Nokia is also one of the founding members of the Next G Alliance, which includes Apple, Google, Cisco, AT&T, Bell Canada, Ericsson, Facebook, Microsoft, Qualcomm Technologies Inc., T-Mobile, Verizon, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intel, LG Electronics, VMware and others.
It is difficult to say which company is ahead in the 6G race as it is still early days for this technology. However, it is clear that many companies are investing in research and development to ensure they are well-positioned to take advantage of this new technology when it becomes available.
Brain computer interfaces sound particularly futuristic, but this technology is already promising lifestyle improvements for individuals who have paralysis, along with significant innovation in gaming. Down the line, it will help humans become powered up to keep pace with advancements in AI.
Furthering this sci-fi revolution, Emotional AI, otherwise known as 'Affective Computing' or 'Cognitive Computing', is designed to capture, analyze and respond to human emotions and simulate human thoughts.
The Human Technology category includes synthetic biology, immortality, and bionic humans.
According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, Synthetic Biology (synbio) is:
“a field of science that involves redesigning organisms for useful purposes by engineering them to have new abilities.”
Researchers are harnessing synbio to solve medicine, manufacturing, and agricultural problems by drawing on the vast diversity of nature.
People have been searching for a cure for aging or the elixir of life since time immemorial. Now, immortality may not be entirely out of reach. Genomes could hold the key.
And along with extending life comes the option to enhance our bodies with superhuman abilities. Bionic humans could be created with implants or exoskeletons. Biohacking is already making breakthroughs in enhancing the human body.
The Consumer Technology category includes eVTOL, Wireless Electricity, Holograms, and the metaverse.
eVTOL is the closest we've come to flying cars. It stands for Electrical Vertical Take-off and Landing Vehicles. These are being developed as an alternative mode of transportation to ease the burden on aging infrastructure and congested roads.
The Internet of Things (IoT) and expanding electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure require wireless electricity to ensure seamless rollout and stable electricity supplies in remote settings.
Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg envisions holograms as a staple of the metaverse. While not actually a Facebook invention, Zuckerberg is pioneering the advancement of the metaverse. And is on a fast-track mission to make virtual reality our present reality.
In a not-so-distant future, the metaverse will allow humans to be present in a virtual world.
Projected to be a future iteration of the internet, aka Web 3.0, simulated environments and holographic projections should allow the physical and virtual worlds to converge.
The Green Technology category includes next-generation batteries, OceanTech, green mining, and carbon capture and storage solutions.
With EV expansion growing exponentially, sustainable alternatives to lithium batteries are in vogue. Solid-state, vanadium flow, and sodium ion offer potential.
OceanTech includes harnessing the power of the waves and tides to create energy, land-based aquaculture, and precision fishing using AI.
Green Mining suggestions are questionably green but include deep-sea mining, agromining, mining of wastewater, and even asteroid mining.
Meanwhile, carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies are gaining traction as many oil majors transition to renewables. With legacy pipelines and rigs lying dormant, they have the facilities, talent, and resources to make strides in CCS development to remove and store carbon emissions permanently.
The Pace of Technological Evolution
The speed at which technology is evolving is staggering. Historically, the adoption of innovations like smartphones and renewable energy has outpaced expert predictions by decades. This is primarily because human intuition often leans towards linear forecasting, whereas technological progress tends to be exponential.
With the daily generation of 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, a trillion-fold increase in processing power since the Apollo 11 mission, and the rapid advancement of AI, we are on the brink of the most rapid tech disruption in history.
Technologies of Tomorrow, Today
Here are some of the standout moonshots from the report:
6G Networks: Expected to offer download speeds of up to 1TBps, 6G could be the answer to the data demands of the future, especially as 5G networks reach their capacity by 2028.
Emotional AI: Devices of the future might understand our emotions better than our closest kin, thanks to advancements in affective and cognitive computing.
Holograms & Metaverse: By the 2030s, the metaverse could become a significant part of our lives, with holographic technology making digital interactions more immersive.
eVTOL Flying Cars: By 2023, we might see the commercial launch of electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles, offering an alternative to traditional road transport.
Synthetic Biology: By 2030, most individuals will have encountered products or applications resulting from the redesign of organisms through genetic engineering.
Investing in the Future
The current market size of these technologies stands at US$330 billion (2019-21), with a projected growth rate of 36% CAGR. By the 2030s, this could balloon to a staggering US$6.4 trillion. Such growth potential offers immense opportunities for investors.
Historically, a mere 1.5% of companies have generated all the net wealth on the global stock market. Identifying and investing in these disruptors could be the key to unlocking significant financial growth.
Industries at the Forefront
Several sectors stand to benefit immensely from these moonshots:
Communication Services: With the advent of 6G, telco equipment providers will see a surge in demand.
Consumer Discretionary: The rise of eVTOL could redefine road transport, while next-gen batteries and green mining present both opportunities and challenges for the shift towards EVs.
Health Care: Innovations in biopharma and biotech, especially around immortality and synthetic biology, could drive the next big cycle of healthcare innovation.
The future is closer than it appears, and the next technological revolution is right around the corner. As the pace of change accelerates, it's crucial to stay informed and prepared. After all, as the report aptly puts it, "Tomorrow may be too late; pace of change to accelerate."
Emerging Technologies Are Reshaping Industries
The business world is rapidly changing as emerging technologies reshape industries and redefine the way companies operate.
Supply chains, once linear and straightforward, are now experiencing a revolution. With the integration of big data and AI systems, businesses can predict market demands with higher accuracy and optimize their operations. This not only streamlines processes but also enhances customer experiences by ensuring timely delivery and product availability.
Quantum computing, rooted in the principles of quantum mechanics, promises computational power that's unimaginable with today's standards. Its potential to solve complex problems in seconds is likely to be a game-changer for sectors ranging from healthcare to finance.
Then over in finance, we have the potential for blockchain technology to sidestep tradition and streamline old ways of working. Beyond its initial application in cryptocurrencies, blockchain offers a wide range of uses, including securing transactions, verifying contracts, and ensuring transparency in business operations.
Automation remains at the forefront of business transformation. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) allows companies to automate repetitive tasks, leading to increased efficiency and freeing up human resources for more strategic roles.
3D printing is another emerging technology that's changing the face of manufacturing. It enables businesses to produce prototypes rapidly, customize products on the fly, and even revolutionize industries like healthcare with the potential for printing organs.
Lastly, the concept of smart cities is no longer a distant dream. With the integration of AI, big data, and other advanced technologies, urban areas are becoming more sustainable, efficient, and livable.
Ultimately, the future of business lies in embracing new emerging technologies. Companies that recognize their potential and invest in them will undoubtedly lead the way in innovation and growth. For savvy investors, this serves as a prime opportunity to identify those moonshot stocks primed to elevate their portfolios.