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The A.I. boom could also give a boost to these investing trends. How to play it

Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence are making investors see many tech companies in a new light, but the advancements could soon spread, boosting sectors and ETFs without direct ties to AI. The recent boom in AI has driven up some of the biggest tech stocks on the market, including Microsoft , Alphabet and chip maker Nvidia . The boost to those companies has helped the broader market hold up well so far in 2023 despite growing concerns about the economic outlook and the banking system. But while the focus of new tools such as ChatGPT and Bard AI has so far mostly been on the future of internet search and office communications, the AI breakthroughs will soon crop up in other industries, said Jay Jacobs, U.S. Head of Thematics and Active Equity ETFs at Blackrock. “Now that we have hundreds of millions of people interacting with generative AI, people are discovering new use cases for it,” Jacobs said. Those use cases might mean that AI does not replace other areas as the market’s new growth sector, as much as it instead helps accelerate their growth. “Anywhere where there’s data, AI is going to be useful,” Jacobs said. Genomics and health care One area where AI should be useful is health care, where the traditionally painstaking process of drug development may be supercharged and patients can potentially get more individualized care. “Genomics is an area where you’ve seen an explosion of data, and a lot of that has coincided with the fact that genetic testing is cheaper than it’s ever been. We’ve actually seen a massive price deflation in genetic testing,” Jacobs said. “The very first human genome project cost like $3 billion, and now it costs a couple hundred dollars to get your genetic testing.” Artificial intelligence can be used by companies developing drugs or other treatments to speed up the discovery process for potential successes, Jacobs said. “Now we have these new data sets popping up in these different areas, and you just set it loose on it,” he added. Blackrock’s offering in this space includes the iShares Genomics Immunology and Healthcare ETF (IDNA) . The fund has an expense ratio of 0.47% and $140 million in assets under management. Its biggest competitor in the space is the ARK Genomic Revolution ETF (ARKG) , from growth investor Cathie Wood. That fund has about $2 billion in assets under management but a higher expense ratio at 0.75%. ARKG YTD mountain Genomics ETFs like ARKG are down this year. Both funds are down so far this year. Cybersecurity Another growth area where the ability to analyze data quickly is a key part of the business is cybersecurity, and breakthroughs at AI might be coming at just the right time, Jacobs said. “We’ve seen a lot of M & A in the cybersecurity space, and I think that’s positive because it means there’s more data in place under one roof,” he said. AI can help these companies improve at recognizing patterns and trends for hackers in order to strengthen defenses, Jacobs said. “Increasingly, the cyber defense companies are using AI to try to do more predictive analytics around when and where and how those cyber attacks are going to happen,” he said. The notable funds in this space include the iShares Cybersecurity & Tech ETF (IHAK) . The biggest competitors include the ETFMG Prime Cyber Security ETF (HACK) and Global X Cybersecurity ETF (BUG) . All three funds are up for the year, but BUG has been the best performer with a total return above 8% year to date.

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