The future’s bright, the future’s digital

Today’s world is shaped by powerful structural shifts –from shifting demographics to the transition to a low-carbon economy. These mega forces create themes that investors can ill afford to ignore. A case in point is our digital future. The progress of digital technology is astounding – with generative AI just the most eye-catching recent example. But many of these technologies are still in their infancy – and new technologies are emerging all the time.

By focusing on the digital future, investors can harness some of the forces that are reshaping both our lives.

So, what are these forces? At iShares by BlackRock, we see seven key themes that are driving our digital future: healthcare, robotics, digitalisation, entertainment, electric vehicles, ‘smart city’ and digital security. Here, we’ll take a look at two themes, as an example.

Smart cities

Across the world, a vast migration is underway from the countryside to the city. Already, well over half of us live in urban environments. It’s estimated that by 2050 more than 8.8 billion people will live in cities. Double of that today at 4.4 billion.

The largest urban areas are megacities - defined by the UN as areas with populations over 10 million. There are already 33 megacities; by mid-century, there will be closer to 50. The rise of the megacity poses considerable challenges - from congested roads to population density to pollution and waste and will therefore require significant infrastructure, including communication networks (e.g. 5G, fibre), transit and transportation (e.g. metro, bridges), social infrastructure (e.g. hospitals, schools) and housing.

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