MarketInsight | The Winds of Change
I saw Elon Musk interviewed a few weeks ago, and he said something that struck me. He said that the intrusion of artificial intelligence into our daily lives was going to be “abrupt.” The word “abrupt” struck me and still does. Tesla’s CEO was talking about more than self-driving cars. He was talking about radical changes to every aspect of our lives.
Imagine a future where computers and robots build almost everything, where cars are all electric and drive themselves. Some say we will not even own the car, just rent it for the period we need it. An artificial intelligence will pay our bills and order our necessities. Those will be delivered automatically. Imagine a future where computers help us to engineer better humans.
Let’s talk about the cars. I don’t know about you, but I resent the idea that it is going to become increasingly more difficult for me to drive down the highway in a convertible powered by an internal combustion engine. I want to resist this change if I can. I know a lot of you feel the same way. On the other hand, I know there are many ready to openly embrace this change. My mother-in-law suffers from Parkinson’s and is no longer allowed to drive. She, understandably, misses her freedom. She keeps reminding me that as soon as the self-driving cars arrive, she can get one and be back on the road.
My mother-in-law is not the only person excitedly eyeing autonomously driven vehicles. Amazon and UPS are already implementing drone deliveries. Many of you will receive a delivery by drone this year; all of us will by the end of the decade. UPS made their first delivery last month in Lithia, Fla. An electric autonomously-driven truck pulled up in front of the customer’s house and then a flying drone took off from the roof and delivered the package to their door step.
Musk mentioned other changes as well. He likes to talk about a lack of jobs, a minimum living wage, genetic engineering of perfect human beings and the idea of “symbiosis,” where our brains interact directly with a computer. Change of that magnitude, even over the course of two generations, will cause stress and turmoil in our society. Many will fight back and resist.
Corporations are driving the change. As investors, we need to put aside our fears and embrace the opportunities this presents. Corporations will get more powerful. We must profit from that knowledge.
Scott A. Grant is President of Standfast Asset Management in Ponte Vedra Beach. He welcomes your comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.