For all of the fear mongering and apocalyptic media, the rise of artificial intelligence hasn’t yet resulted in machines triumphing over us.
There’s been no grand invention that has triggered the beginning of the end. Or any major ethical dilemmas about the legal rights of artificially intelligent beings.
Instead, this is a shift that has been happening over the last two decades quietly and consistently. And quite literally, under your nose.
The reality is that on paper, you are already an artificially intelligent being.
Your mobile phone, which is perpetually either in your hand or in your pocket, is akin to an extra limb — one which makes you vastly more intelligent and efficient. It puts thousands of years’ worth of knowledge at your fingertips, and allows you to communicate with someone across great stretches of ocean in real time.
400 years ago, you would have been labelled a witch and drowned alive for that feat. But now, those who don’t have those technological superpowers are looked down upon.
I’m sure those living in the last century also would have gawked at our self-driving cars and automated industries — wondering if humans would be made redundant altogether. But for us, the change has been so gradual we haven’t even noticed it. And instead of despairing about how things used to be and pushing against the change, people are beginning to wake up to the idea that we’re vastly better off with AI and automation than without it.
Right now, companies all over the world are scrambling to keep coming up with ideas that will make us faster and smarter. Inventions that will get us from point A to point B at speeds that are superhuman — all the while keeping it cost effective and environmentally friendly.
Uber, a company that has always been at the forefront of innovation, is of course a leader in this space. Particularly when it comes to turning our society into the high tech, technicolour dream that has been portrayed time and time again in our favourite sci-fi movies.
And based on an announcement released by the company this week, it looks like we’re one step closer to having the power to fly through the sky at the push of a button.
Hailing a drone?
Uber is well aware that, with the global population rising, the idea that every person is entitled to their own car is becoming untenable. The roads are congested, pushing our tempers and emission levels to dangerous highs.
On the ground, the situation is dire. But the skies present a whole new world of possibility.
Which is why next year, Melbourne will become the third city in the world — along with Dallas and Los Angeles — to test Uber’s new air travel service.
According to an announcement released by the company this week, in 2020, Uber Air pilot flights will commence with commercial operations planned to begin in 2023. By that time, travelling by electric air taxi should be about the same price as an Uber X car.
If the trial is successful, other Australian cities will follow suit in the coming years.
As Susan Anderson, representative for Uber Australia, New Zealand and North Asia confirmed:
‘Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology…
‘This, coupled with Melbourne’s unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the perfect third launch city for Uber Air.’
According to Uber’s new infomercial, the electric air taxis would take off and land vertically from designated ‘skyports’ that would be located on the rooftops of shopping centres and alike.
The drone-like aircraft will be able to hold four passengers and a pilot, who will be able to sit back and watch the peak hour traffic creep along from the skies.
Using the Uber Air service, a trip to Melbourne Airport from the CBD would only take 10 minutes, as opposed to travelling for up to an hour by car. And the process of ordering an Uber Air will be as simple as hailing a taxi.
In line with the growing push towards environmentally-friendly energy sources, Uber aircrafts will also operate on rechargeable batteries that produce no emissions and are 90% more energy efficient than standard helicopters.
Already the company is working with big Aussie names like Telstra, Westfield and Melbourne Airport, along with the Victorian government to make this Blade Runner-esque vision a reality.
There’s no doubt this is a big step forward for Melbourne and Australia as a whole. Not only will it establish Victoria as a pioneering state for the future of commercial travel, but it also utilises a number of key Aussie industries. Perhaps the most important of which is 5G.
As Telstra CEO Andrew Penn revealed:
‘Telstra is excited to be part of a truly momentous point in time for Melbourne on the world stage. Our network strength, coverage and leadership in 5G, along with our ongoing work on drones and related standards, will support Uber’s incredible technology and innovation to develop a service we have all imagined would one day be possible.’
This development just goes to show how 5G is a technology crucial for facilitating the world of tomorrow. Uber Air is just one invention that will need to utilise the insanely fast network speeds that 5G will provide. And there’s no question that other companies will need to do the same.
But as my fellow editor Harje Ronngard has been saying for a while, a lot of these companies, like Uber, are needlessly risky investments. Their business models have pitfalls that shouldn’t be overlooked.
However, that doesn’t mean you need to boycott the tech of the future. Instead, you can come at it from a different angle. And 5G stocks, which will make up the global network of the future, could be the perfect way to do that.
So next time you read about flying cars, or virtual reality, or any other wonderous invention that will take us even further into the future, take a look at the technology behind it. Because there are a great wealth of opportunities to be found.
This week in Money Morning
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Harje answers this and more on Tuesday.
Is Warren Buffett right to be sceptical of cryptos? The media portrays everyone in cryptos as shady, gambling-addicted youths that would throw their lives away for a bit of extra coin. But there’s a whole other movement — a large group of enthusiasts that believe crypto could be something more. So who’s right?
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Have you heard about Facebook’s new project: GlobalCoin? It’s likely to be the social network’s payment division. Not only that, but it could be the payment facilitator that ties Facebook’s e-commerce ambitions together. And as Harje wrote on Thursday, this could be the beginning of a new payment system that completely breaks down the notion of separate currencies.
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Rare earths…the stuff that’s everywhere but only found in very small concentrations. This is the stuff that goes into your smartphone, wind turbines, electric vehicles, fighter jets and various military technologies. The problem is that China controls the stuff. But as Harje wrote on Friday, could a shift in this sector be the rare opportunity you’ve been waiting for?
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Until next week,
Editor, Money Weekend
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