They say you shouldn’t believe everything you see on the big screen.
However, in the case of science fiction, the human imagination has gotten a few things right—especially when it comes to futuristic forecasts. Today, the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution is transforming everything, but it turns out we had a hunch about it all along.
When AI Comes to Life
Today’s infographic from Noodle.ai takes a look at how some movie and television predictions for AI’s capabilities have taken hold in the real world.
Many early “predictions” about future technologies certainly missed the mark—but it seems science fiction was able to accurately forecast a thing or two about AI.
AI Basics: Making Life Better
Artificial intelligence is all about equipping machines with the ability to mimic human decision-making processes. It has a wide range of applications, from basic automation to advanced machine learning models.
AI has proliferated into virtually every aspect of life, and in the graphic, it’s clear that several sci-fi-turned-real inventions are aimed at making things more convenient for us humans.
|Sci Fi Prediction||AI in Reality|
|1962: The Jetsons cartoon shows video calls on a tv screen, and a robot maid.||2002: iRobot Roomba is the first robotic vacuum.
2018: Facebook Portal is a video-calling smart display.
2019: Moley robotic kitchen is able to prep meals from scratch and clean up afterwards.
|1966: Star Trek inspired several tech innovations that have become commonplace.||Examples include: Bluetooth headsets, voice assistants, cellphones, and automatic sliding doors.|
|1989: Back to the Future features smart glasses for television and phone calls, and a smart watch which can precisely predict weather.||2012: The Dark Sky app provides custom alerts on the weather to the minute.
2013: Google Glass is able to make calls, send texts, display photos, and provide directions.
2015: Apple Watch comes enabled with WiFi, Bluetooth, a GPS, and even a heart sensor.
|1999: Smart House showcases a fully automated house that is able to respond to verbal requests, cook and clean, and control thermostat settings.||2019: A HGTV contest lets people win a WiFi connected smart house, complete with voice-enabled thermostat and security systems.|
Of course, these have had varying degrees of success. While Google Glass didn’t initially resonate with the wider public, the augmented reality smart glasses have now proved useful in businesses such as manufacturing.
Elsewhere, sci-fi-inspired advances in industries like healthtech are providing a new lease of life for many patients—and continuously reinventing the frontier of what we think is possible.
Sci-Fi Helps Us Push Boundaries
One monumental event in AI history occurred in 1997, when IBM’s Deep Blue beat a chess master at his own game. This event shook the world when we realized what AI could truly be capable of—even though sci-fi had in fact anticipated it 20 years prior.
But as the graphic shows, not all is rosy in science fiction’s likeness of AI. It’s often depicted as something to fear, and certain predictions have proved to be eerily accurate.
|Sci Fi Prediction||AI in Reality|
|1977: K9, a robotic dog in Doctor Who, beats its master at a chess game.||1997: IBM’s Deep Blue computer beats a Russian chess master, Garry Kasparov.|
|1984: Skynet from Terminator, a self-aware AI program, attempts to extinguish humanity.||2019: The U.S. Army creates an autonomous system to “acquire, identify, and target threats” (ATLAS AI).|
|2011: AI monitors surveillance cameras and predicts future criminals in Person of Interest.||2018: The National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS)|
While not all of these are causes for alarm, they clearly demonstrate that sci-fi has the capacity to influence the breakthrough technology we could end up seeing a few years down the line. However, turning reel to real can raise some curious dilemmas.
Rights for Robots?
Last year, the European Parliament debated an interesting question: do robots qualify as people?
The resolution considered granting “personhood” to sophisticated, autonomous robots. However, over 150 AI experts strongly warned against this proposal, arguing it would “blur the relation between man and machine” in a way that is too unethical.
Nevertheless, this thought experiment proves that artificial intelligence is matching our wildest imagined predictions for it.
AI is whatever hasn’t been done yet.
As we move ever closer towards a world where AI is inextricably linked with the everyday, how else could science fiction shape our expectations of the future?
Ranked: The World’s Most Downloaded Apps
The app economy is expected to be over $6 trillion by 2021—see the world’s most downloaded apps and how they’re driving the future of this market.
Ranked: The World’s Most Downloaded Apps
From strategically finding love, to helping researchers search for extraterrestrial life—there is quite literally an app for almost anything these days.
It is therefore no surprise that apps have become one of the largest consumer ecosystems on the planet, with the global app economy expected to reach $6.3 trillion by 2021.
Today’s graphics pull data from a recent report by Sensor Tower that ranks the top 20 most downloaded apps of 2019. New entrants are rising up and threatening the dominance of more established tech companies—but can they sustain their current position on the leaderboard?
The Champions of the App Economy
According to the report, total app downloads grew to 115 billion in 2019, including almost 31 billion downloads on the App Store and 84 billion on Google Play.
Social media giant Facebook owns four out of five of 2019’s most downloaded apps: Facebook, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Collectively, they boast an eye-watering 16 billion downloads—with WhatsApp holding the top spot for the fourth year running.
Growth in the short-form video category is apparent. The video creation app Likee joined this year’s ranking and sits in sixth place, with the majority of the app’s 330 million downloads coming from India.
The app lets users edit videos using a wide variety of effects, and directly competes with TikTok—a lip syncing app that entered the ranking in 2018 and now threatens WhatsApp’s position at the top of the leaderboard.
Which Apps Are Climbing the Ranks?
TikTok is the newest platform to turn its users into viral sensations, grossing $177 million in 2019. This is equal to more than five times its 2018 revenue. TikTok also bypassed Instagram in 2018, breaking Facebook’s foothold on the top four apps globally.
TikTok is owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, the most valuable private company in the world—and 78% of TikTok’s total Q4’2019 revenue came from its native country.
Aside from several short-form video entrants, new players from other industries continue to storm up the ranks. While they don’t make the list of most downloaded apps yet, their recent success could change that.
Netflix is the only streaming service to make it into the top 20 most downloaded apps, but the launch of Disney+ could potentially change that.
Despite a November launch, Disney+ became the second most popular new app of 2019. Within a month, the service generated $50 million in revenue.
To put this into context, Disney+ acquired 34% of all streaming app downloads in less than three months, or 30 million subscribers—half of Netflix’s current 60 million U.S. subscribers. That figure also surpasses Hulu and Amazon Prime’s figures for the entirety of 2019.
With 2.4 billion people playing mobile games in 2019, gaming is also set to become a major player in the app economy.
Two popular console franchises, Call of Duty and Mario Kart, recently entered the mobile market to become two of the most successful games in the category.
The free mobile version of Call of Duty had the second best quarter of any mobile game ever, with 170 million worldwide downloads. Only Pokémon GO had a better quarter, with more than 300 million installs when it launched in 2016.
The success of these apps can be attributed to their already established consumer base, and the evident shift in more gamers moving to mobile platforms as smartphone technology and processing speeds improve.
Countries Leading the App Economy
The app economy is also being fueled by growth in emerging markets including China, India, Brazil and Russia, thanks to faster internet speeds and increasing smartphone adoption rates.
Specifically, India’s increasing digitization is driving significant growth in the market. The country witnessed nearly 5 billion app installs in the last quarter of 2019—surging ahead of the U.S. with just over 3 billion installs.
Note: As Google Play is not available in China, the country was excluded from this chart.
India’s demand could be attributed to the fact that half of its 1.3 billion population is under the age of 25. A younger, tech savvy audience has resulted in India becoming TikTok’s top market, commanding 45% of the app’s first time downloads in 2019.
The App Economy 2.0
With an explosion in user spending, and seemingly endless opportunities for innovation, the global app economy shows a tremendous amount of promise, but is still in its early days.
Consumers spent $101 billion on apps globally in 2018. This is double the size of the global sneaker market, and nearly three times the size of the oral care industry.
—Danielle Levitas, EVP of Global Marketing & Market Insights at App Annie
Rising consumer spend combined with other forms of monetization, such as advertising and mobile commerce, could soon enable the app market to surpass the trillion dollar barrier in revenue.
While many experts claimed that the app industry was dead in its tracks, it’s safe to say that those predictions are now being irrefutably challenged.
Tesla’s Valuation Surpasses Ford and GM Combined
Tesla is not only the top valued U.S. automaker, it’s now worth more than Ford and GM combined. Will the rally continue, or will short sellers win the day?
Chart: Tesla is Worth More than Ford and GM Combined
Tesla has been on a roller coaster ride of market sentiment in recent years, but the electric car company is starting off the new decade on a high note.
The company is not only America’s most valuable automaker, it’s now worth more than Ford and GM combined.
Tesla’s valuation has already surpassed the $100 billion mark – a significant milestone for a company that produces a fraction of the vehicles of its direct competitors.
Here’s a comparison of the top selling models in the U.S. for Ford, GM, and Tesla.
|Rank||Model||Unit Sales (Q4 2019)|
|7||Tesla Model 3||47,275|
A quick glance at this list is revealing. Though Tesla’s Model 3 put up strong sales numbers, it’s still only a small percentage of vehicles sold by U.S. automakers.
So, what’s driving Tesla’s meteoric growth, and is it sustainable? Below, we’ll take a high-level look at the bull and bear cases for the company.
The Bull Case for Tesla Motors
Tesla posted losses of $1.1 billion in the first half of 2019, but since then, the company has turned the situation around in dramatic fashion.
The automaker had a surprising third quarter with not only record deliveries of 97,000 cars, but also a profit of $143 million. Deliveries broke yet another record in Q4 2019, totaling 112,000 vehicles. These announcements helped improve market sentiment, sending the company’s stock back on an upward trajectory heading into 2020.
Here are three reasons some analysts and media are still bullish on Tesla:
1. Tapping into the World’s Largest Electric Car Market
For a long time, foreign companies looking to manufacture products in China couldn’t do so without working through a domestic partner. Recently though, Tesla became the first major benefactor of a policy change, becoming the first wholly foreign-owned automaker in China.
Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai was completed in October, and was built in just 10 months – an impressive feat. Furthermore, cars have already begun rolling off the assembly lines, as Tesla targets an annual production of 150,000 Model 3s.
Perhaps the best part for a company with historically volatile earnings: Tesla claims the facility was 65% cheaper to build than its production plant in the U.S.
2. Still the Range King
2019 saw many of the more established automakers take their first swings at Tesla.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) handed out official range ratings for several new electric cars, but none could unseat the king:
3. Musk’s Megaphone
Few CEOs capture the attention of media quite like Elon Musk. While his actions can sometimes have unintended consequences for the company – the infamous “funding secured” tweet, for example – Elon Musk’s massive reach allows the company to sell vehicles without spending a dime on advertising.
By contrast, in 2018, Ford and GM spent $2.3 billion and $3.1 billion respectively on advertising in the U.S. alone.
The Bear Case for Tesla Motors
While the second half of 2019 has given Tesla bulls much to celebrate, many investors are remaining vigilant, if not skeptical.
1. Stiff Competition in China
Tapping into the world’s largest EV market is a double-edged sword for Tesla, as they face an onslaught of domestic and foreign competitors.
The Chinese government has also generously supported its own EV industry, handing out over $60 billion in subsidies to over 400 companies. Tesla will be competing against state-owned enterprises like BAIC, one of the largest players in the Chinese EV market.
Western automakers are also gaining a foothold in China as well. Volkswagen and its Chinese joint-venture partner, SAIC Motor, will begin producing cars at two factories in China in the autumn of 2020.
The German automotive giant has also forged partnerships with Chinese battery manufacturers, including China’s biggest battery company Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL).
2. Getting Ratio’d
Tesla has an extremely high premium on earnings when compared with its more established counterparts in the auto industry.
|Company||Ticker||Enterprise Multiple* (last 12 months)|
The enterprise multiple (EV/EBITDA) measures the dollars in enterprise value for each dollar of earnings. The ratio is commonly used to determine if a company is undervalued or overvalued compared to peers.
The Bottom Line is… the Bottom Line
Of course, Tesla’s future will be dictated by variables more complex than can be summed up in a tidy pro/con list.
Musk has shown a willingness to sacrifice profitability in the name of growth – Tesla has yet to prove it can deliver consistent, quarterly profits.
It’s hard to be profitable with that level of growth. We could slow it down, but then that would not be good for sustainability and the cause of electric vehicles.
– Elon Musk
After reporting a record number of deliveries in the final quarter of 2019, there’s no doubt that true believers and short sellers alike will be watching the company’s January 29, 2020, earnings call with much anticipation.
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