Quantum computers could be solving problems that would take traditional computers a billion years and 6G download speeds could surpass 400Gb/s online are among the 15 technologies that can change our lives, a report said.
There is 3x more cobalt in the ocean than on land for EV batteries; graphene (the thinnest, strongest material known to humans) could have numerous transformative applications; nanosatellites could connect the entire planet; and AI could be as intelligent as humans as soon as 2029, added Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) in its “Thematic Investing” report.
The pace at which themes are transforming businesses today is rapidly increasing; but we expect even more exponential growth in the coming years. So what seems 10-15 years down the line right now could materialise much faster. A paradigm shift in the explosion of data (doubling every 2-3Y), stronger processing power (Moore's law reincarnated), and the rise of an AI-driven world (200 billion connectable devices by 2025) will bring about the fastest rollout of disruptive technologies in history.
Examining potential disruptors now more vital than ever
The top 4 per cent of companies generated 100 per cent of net wealth over the past 90 years on the US stock market, meaning that the few disruptive beneficiaries are influential in financial markets growth. Furthermore, accelerating innovation places incumbents at heightened risk of displacement. In 1958, the average company lasted 61 years on the S&P 500 but by 2027 this is expected to be only 12Y.
Transforming world calls for transformative solutions
Leftfield technologies will be needed to tackle the huge challenges facing the world. In the next 40 years the planet will need to produce more food than all farmers have harvested in the past 8,000 years; nextgen food solutions like vertical farming and lab-grown meat could be the answer. And geoengineering could mitigate global warming for less than <1 per cent of global annual oil capex.
In the next 10 years 5G will not be able to handle the exponential growth of data transmission. 6G could enable speeds up to 400x faster than 5G. Today, 41 per cent of the planet is still not connected to the internet. Satellites in mega-constellations could start providing wider access as soon as 2021.
$48 billion potential market, $13 trillion+ industry impact
The 15 technologies we highlight in this report could represent a $48 billion market opportunity by 2025 (26 per cent CAGR). These moonshots could be highly disruptive to industries worth a combined $13tn and contribute to the next 10-15-year cycle of intelligent technologies.
“We think the most high growth potential moonshots could be quantum computing, deep sea mining and nanosatellites. Those that look further off include 3D bioprinting, geoengineering, nuclear fusion, and technological singularity,” said BofAML in the report.
So what are the next technologies?
BofAML examined the moonshots, comparing risks, market sizes, CAGRs, catalysts and timelines, to give a comprehensive overview and assessment of what technologies could take hold next - either transforming industry, affecting the new consumer or solving the problem of climate change:
1. Quantum computing: A machine that works on the sub-atomic level with qubits rather than bits to exponentially increase the speed of calculations leading to a new revolution in computing processing power and profound implications across multiple industries, such as cybersecurity.
2. Deep sea mining: Collection of metals, such as nickel and cobalt, from polymetallic nodules on the ocean floor for use in batteries and electronics.
3. Nanosatellites: Small satellites enabling cheaper access to space for a larger audience by reducing costs and obsolescence in the satellite industry. Small satellites could be the base of mega-constellations that provide internet to the unconnected 41%.
4. 6G: The next generation of telecom networks will be needed in just a decade as data continues to grow exponentially.
5. 3D bioprinting: The use of 3D printing to generate organs and biological material in medicine and healthcare. Uses of this material could include transplantation, drug discovery, and in vitro disease study.
6. Hyperloop: High-speed, vacuum-sealed trains for long-distance passenger travel as an alternative to domestic air travel or high-speed rail.
7. Space tourism: Luxury tourism in space, ranging from trips round the Moon, to stays on the International Space Station, and sub-orbital travel.
8. Geoengineering: Limiting the impact of climate change with human-made solutions, from solar radiation management (brightening crops, urban space, space mirrors), to carbon capture & storage, and afforestation.
9. Mass vertical & greenhouse farming: Enabling a sustainable food supply for a growing population increasingly exposed to extreme weather through vertical, greenhouse, hydroponic and urban farming.
10. LiFi: The use of light and light bulbs to transmit data to complement overburdened wi-fi, or places where 5G cannot be used, such as smart factories or hospitals.
11. Nanotechnology: Manipulating and using materials on a nanoscale for novel applications in industries including: life sciences (genetics, medical tests), energy (solar, batteries), digital technology (semiconductors, smaller & flexible electronics), chemicals (coatings), and autos (batteries, electric vehicles).
12. Behavioural biometrics for security: The use of behavioural biometrics such as swiping patterns, voice, walking gait and not just static biometrics to ensure security in finance, eCommerce, edTech, etc.
13. Graphene: The use of the thinnest, strongest material known to humans in batteries, electronics, etc.
14. Nuclear fusion: The fusion of hydrogen atoms together at 100mnOC+ to generate low-carbon, clean energy.
15. Technological singularity: When technological innovation accelerates beyond the ability for human intelligence to keep up.
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