Danish physicist Niels Bohr, who won the Nobel Prize for explaining atomic structure and quantum theory, once said: “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” Since I write the regular Tech column for The Edge Singapore, I have the difficult task at the end of every year to try and predict the key tech trends that will be worth watching in the New Year.
Tech has a reputation of being overhyped. We tend to overestimate the short-term potential of any new technology and, ironically, way underestimate its longer-term potential. Over the past four years, investors have been far too optimistic about some of the near-term tech bets like cloud computing software-as-aservice firms that have commanded valuations of close to 100 times annual revenues, but are often dismissive of long-term technologies like electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) flying cars that are likely to be in commercial service by the end of the current decade.
“Moonshots are radical technologies that have not been commercialised yet, but clearly have the potential to change our lives,” Haim Israel, head of thematic investments at Bank of America, told me recently. Think of Internet before the dotcom bubble or smartphone before the first iPhone. Ten years ago, the vast majority of the people did not have a smartphone. Now, almost everyone who has a phone has an Internet-enabled smartphone. In North America, China, Europe and even Singapore, it is increasingly on the 5G network. Indeed, it is hard to buy a cellular handset these days that is not a smartphone.