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Next Gen AR/VR + Generative AI + Autonomous Vehicles: Value Creation & Destruction

Jun 12, 2023 | Brian Blair of Design Wealth Advisors


These three technologies will cause a shift in nearly every aspect of our lives.

Hands holding a phone

I think we’re going to look back on 2023 and wonder how so many disruptive technologies took shape in such a short period of time. A decade ago, I was a technology equity analyst in San Francisco and New York with a focus on all things mobile. I saw the evolution of the smartphone from the very first offerings. I watched how we went from black & white screens to color screens to ultimately having large touch screens with mobile applications in our pockets. I saw many companies rise during this period but there were even more companies that fell by the wayside amidst accelerated change. The shift didn’t happen immediately, but the signs were there if you were paying attention. Covering technology forces you to look ahead, to imagine what’s possible and to try and see what might happen down the line as a result of what is in front of you right now. When you are an analyst (or a technology investor) you build a mosaic in your mind that is based on disparate pieces of information and you try to piece together a picture of the future. A number of recent announcements harken back to those early days in my career when it was clear we were on the cusp of exciting change:

1. Generative AI.

While ChatGPT was actually introduced to the public late last year, it’s been around for a number of years, just not in its current form. Now that it’s functional and helpful, it’s moving quickly into every corner of our world.  The recently released mobile app from OpenAI further pushes generative AI into our lives by putting it in our pockets with an ability to use it on the go. Additional Chatbots appear to be coming online every few weeks and their ultimate utility and application seems only to be limited by our imaginations. My high level view is that generative AI will make us all smarter and help each of us perform our various daily tasks with more efficiency, accuracy and intelligence. (ChatGPT could have written this for me by the way, but I still would have had to prompt it.)  

2.Autonomous Vehicles.

Pair this groundbreaking advancement in AI with the leap being seen in autonomous vehicles, which seems to be hitting a tipping point this year with autonomous taxi offerings moving beyond Arizona into California. Waymo, a division of Google, recently announced a partnership with Uber for autonomous taxi services. The daily ridership remains small, but this is how an idea becomes mainstream: it has a successful run in a few places that create a use case that justifies expansion. The rollout won’t be perfect, but it’s important to watch it evolve. A number of other companies are pushing into this space from various angles on both the public and private side and while projections vary (as do concerns), autonomous vehicles appear to be a very real part of our future. 

3. Next Gen VR/AR.

Added to these advancements is the potential of the next generation of virtual reality / augmented reality hardware with the newly announced Vision Pro from Apple and the Quest 3 from Meta. As you consider where these platforms are headed vs. where they started, you begin to see a world that looks markedly different from the one we are currently living in. It doesn’t mean everyone will wear the goggles or the headset, but many will and whether you believe it or not, it does appear that a new era of computing is on the horizon.  Remember that much like the smartphone itself, it’s an evolution. It takes time. It takes “killer applications” before we see mass adoption and there are always fits and starts along the way.  

Advancements in technology don’t generally happen overnight. I can’t think of one in my career anyway. The process of true innovation can actually be quite slow, but when a technology “tips” and begins to see mass adoption, that is when we start to see opportunities around value creation as well as indications of value destruction.  It’s important to understand the role these technologies will play in our lives and to have an opinion on how they will fit into our existing world so that we can understand the implications for existing companies. We need to have a view on who will benefit as well as an understanding of who might be left behind. In my role as a private wealth advisor, it’s critical to look ahead and to assess the opportunities that evolve with new technologies but also to see who might be left in the dust.