6. 1 singular thing
In a Sept. 20 speech in New York, Masayoshi Son, founder of the Tokyo company SoftBank, forecast that by 2047, the Earth will be populated by an equivalent number of humans and robots — 10 billion each. And the robots, he said, will be "smarter than mankind." Over the last year, Son has been investing in that moment, which the tech community calls the "singularity."
Son's objective: When it comes to artificial intelligence, Son appears to intend to be every bit as big or bigger commercially than the U.S. and Chinese tech titans otherwise believed to be dominating AI research — Alibaba, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Tencent, and so on. Toward that aim, Son's $93 billion Vision Fund has put down large investments in at least a dozen promising AI startups (chart above).
Looking for outright acquisitions: Son also has been vacuuming up companies. In June, he acquired two serious robotics companies — Boston Dynamics and Schaft — for undisclosed sums. "What is my belief and vision for this investment? I have only one belief — [the] singularity," he said in New York.