Innovation leads directly to the disruption of an existing industry. Just look at what Steve Jobs and his iPhone did to the mobile phone business.
And in the future, artificial intelligence (AI) will fundamentally change how we interact with the world.
What is AI? If you go online to shop for a frying pan, and a website starts recommending different types and models of frying pans, that’s not what AI would do.
Simply put, AI is a predictive technology. It has the ability to produce results that go way beyond a consumer’s needs based on their browsing or purchasing records.
A marketer with AI technology should be able to promote items a user might want but never bought or searched before.
Future online shopping would not only satisfy existing demand but also generate potential demand.
Furthermore, AI would communicate beyond words and add visual and audio information to the user’s sensory experience.
Currently, AI is already able to recognize pictures, but your mobile phone’s camera can be used as a scanner in the future.
If you forget your WiFi password at home, just take a shot of your computer’s server, and AI will promptly give you the code.
If you’re a tourist who encounters a strange-looking street food in Kyoto, you can just take a picture of the dish and the AI will immediately identify it for you and even give a little backgrounder on its taste and ingredients.
Snap a photo of a restaurant’s signage or facade and AI will give you an instant review of the eatery. Feed it with a picture of a tourist attraction and AI will return a history of the place.
While walking down the street and you suddenly feel like you want a shot of espresso, just “talk” to your mobile device and it would direct you to the nearest coffee shop. It could even place an order for you, which would be ready when you arrive.
Over the last decade, people have been getting to know the world through online search engines. In the future, they will explore the world with the help of AI.
One would be amazed at the untapped functions of their mobile devices.
From an investment perspective, we always hear skeptics carping about the high valuations of internet stocks. Some worry that these companies may see moderating growth.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett popularized the term “economic moat” to refer to a company’s ability to maintain its competitive advantage over its competitors; in other words, its ability to keep its customers while raising the prices of its products.
People now use social media, search engines and apps for free on a daily basis. Will they suddenly stop using them if the internet giants start charging for those services?
Indeed, tech behemoths still have lots of room to monetize their services.
Every investor is still hoping to put their money into the next big thing. You might have missed the boat of Apple Inc., but it’s not too late to ride the tech boom.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 24.
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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