Hard and Soft

Hardware makes it possible. Software brings it.

That’s what I thought when I read about the robotics innovations that are poised to change our lives: drones, driverless cars, virtual assistants. These technologies are build around things we already know pretty well—the car, the helicopter, and the PDA. But by adding sophisticated software, they are about to make a big difference in the world.

Take driverless cars. I had a driver once, and loved it. I had broken both of my elbows in a bicycle accident, so my employer hired someone to drive and type for me. I could read and talk on the phone, though. It was great to just get into the car and tell my driver where to go. She figured out how to get there, while I concentrated on business.

That’s what many top executives have already: personal assistants to take care of minor issues, while they focus on the big stuff. In the future, just having a smartphone will mean you have an assistant. And advances in programming just make it cheaper.

The hardware’s been around. But improvements in software are about to change the way we live. The future is already here. It just isn’t evenly distributed.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

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