Firing line  

AI shouldn't be seen as a threat since it makes society wealthy

AI shouldn't be seen as a threat since it makes society wealthy

Many technology funds are run along the subject of themes, and BlueBox Wealth Management, a newcomer to the tech arena, has its own. The company’s Global Technology fund – run by portfolio adviser William de Gale, and set up in conjunction with a Geneva-based family office – is based on the principles of “direct connection”.

Mr de Gale says: “It’s essentially the way computers operate in the 21st century. The 20th century model is we look at the analogue world in which we live and come up with a problem and translate it to digital. 

“The computer would spit out the digital result and the human being would read that result and take action – we translate analogue to digital and digital to analogue. What’s happened over the past 15 years is that the computer interacts directly in the real world, such as the internet of things.”

This means that computing has become very reliant on sensors that can inform it about what to do instantly without having to follow a set of instructions that have to be written by an individual.

He says: “If you want the computer to work out for itself what’s going on, you have to have sensors and those sensors are sensing the analogue world. In the past we would have looked at the world and we might have told the computer what to do, whereas now the computer can sense what is going on.”

Any company that makes these sensors or has some role in determining what the computer should do is likely to have long-term prospects, and while perhaps not as apparently interesting as social media or artificial intelligence, the space is not affected by hype but underpins what he sees as the long-term future of technology.

Mr de Gale’s fund invests in Texas Instruments, which makes power management integrated circuits to help devices that use batteries have a longer charging life and charge faster.

Similarly, autonomous vehicles need sensors to operate in the way that works. Mr de Gale says: “AI is one element of this: you can have the best AI in your car, but if it depends on me sitting in the driver’s seat looking into the screen and typing into a keyboard and I’ve got to read the screen, the car’s going to crash because I’m slowing the process down. The AI could be as good as possible, but it will have no effect.” 

Mr de Gale’s fund has between 30 and 40 stocks. It has a management fee of 1 per cent, while net asset value is below $150m (£119m), and this goes down to 0.5 per cent once the fund reaches $200m.

Freeing up time and money

He admits that his fund is based on the philosophy that the whole world is becoming computer “enabled”, which is making the world more “fragile”. But adds: “You could say the technology is doing the boring stuff and we’re using our brains for the important stuff. We employ some of the least qualified people to drive for us. If you get a computer to do it, that’s something we should automate.