As we begin a new decade, many people are overly focused on short-term conditions. This is a recipe for financial mediocrity or perhaps even financial failure. We need to keep the big picture in mind if we intend to reap the big returns.
Despite the current pain, the last decade was historic in terms of international economic development. Growth in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) countries alone has raised the standards of living and purchasing power for over 40% of the world’s people. Africa has seen a rate of progress that is producing a doubling in standards of living every 14 years or so.
As a result, hundreds of millions of people have switched from being net drains on the world economy to net producers. These changes will generate enormous positive benefits for markets and investors. The trick is to think long term and act on the big trends that are powering future technological transformation.
One area with disruptive technology, breakthrough developments, and transformational wealth creation is in the field of robotics. Exciting developments are underway and applications for robot technology are gaining steam.
The consumer robotics market is projected to reach $24B in 2010 and expand to $66B by 2025. By comparison, the digital music market is in projected to be $15B in 2010.
Bill Gates is predicting that in 10 years, personal robots will be as common as computers are today. Many think that investing in robotics now will be like buying Intel, AMD, Apple, and Microsoft in the 1980s.
The Great Recession has caused some temporary blows.
For example, a mainstay of the robotics industry has been assembly line machines for the automobile manufactures. This sector has been significantly down-sized and is essentially on idle (compared to what has been a few short years ago).
However, during these down-turns, innovation occurs. During the Great Depression, the automotive industry made improvements in areas of automotive technology like fully automatic transmissions and hydraulic brakes. When the Great Depression ended, motoring was revolutionized; sales went up, profit margins were larger, and share prices increased.
In addition, the robotics industry has been diversifying.
Robots are being used for dangerous jobs that humans would rather not perform. A recent example is from the US Commerce Dept that has developed robots to repair aging water transmission pipelines, from the inside.
Another example is the development of small and inexpensive robots that can enter collapsed buildings to find survivors after earthquakes. On the domestic front, more than 5 million robotic vacuums have been sold.
The economics of robotics is based on one simple fact. This fact is that computer costs are a fraction, for the performance received, of two decades ago, yet the technician who repairs the computer has probably received a raise.
Food prices have fallen steeply due to improved automation technologies for the agricultural industry. Due to improvements in automated agricultural equipment, the cost of our daily bread has been reduced and we have only scratched the surface of the benefits robots will bring in this area.
With the leading edge of the boomer generation entering retirement, the financial incentives for improved robots is enormous. Health care services have not declined partly because of labor costs however with improved robotic automation, simple housekeeping and personal services for our older family members will come from improved robotics.
The Japanese know this well as more than 1/5 of their population is over 65 years old. With a dwindling work force and an increasing demand for basic care in our homes and health care facilities, the solution is very likely to resemble a humanoid robot.
The biggest robotics problems are not hardware related but involve software or artificial intelligence (AI). If a robot is to be capable of operating in a wide variety of commercial and industrial environments, it must have multiple sensor feeds. This capability is necessary if a viable, multi-purpose, self-directed robot is to succeed.
Also, human / robot interactions must respond to voice requests, create voice reminders, and engage in word games.
A flagship robot will have both advanced and modular AI with a sensor system that allow robots to move about the typical home landscape. They will run on common PC hardware and use operating systems like Windows XP and Linux to keep the costs down. Due to the high cost of assisted care, a humanoid robot will pay for itself in a matter of months.
In a related area on the health care front, there are advanced robotics making large strides and being used in surgical procedures. One development is a unique and remotely controlled catheter that can be used during an operation and cause minimal trauma to the patient. One advantage of surgical robots is the degree of precision they are capable of achieving, much more than even the steadiest of surgeon’s hands.
I trust this post is providing some background and evidence that a robotics revolution is underway and that transformative technology could hand you transformational wealth for decades to come.
In closing, I favor a quote from Steve Forbes. Forbes says that pursuing additional financial education and the resulting increase in our financial literacy (including the investment potential of breakthrough technology) will open our eyes to alternative wealth creating strategies and this will be they key to resolving our financial crisis.
To gain the necessary financial education, it is best to obtain association with, access to, and membership in a wealth creation community. As a result, you will obtain examples of alternative wealth creating strategies such as debt reduction, asset protection, and wealth acceleration with investments in items such as robotics, nano-based next-generation battery technology, precious metals, water rights, oil, natural gas, potash mines, food commodities, or gold mines … perhaps investments in energy assets that are inherently useful like oil rigs, hydropower, or methanol plants … things hard to build, difficult to replace, and costly to substitute … definitely not financial stocks, definitely not retail stocks, definitely not commercial property.
It is wise to monitor breakthrough technology as there are truly exciting developments afoot in the field of robotics. I will continue to monitor developments and provide updates in future articles and at my blog over the next few weeks.