The Next Big Theme: March 2024

Robotics & Artificial Intelligence

New Investments Set to Put Humanoids on the Fast Track

Robotics startup Figure AI has raised $675 million at a $2.6 billion valuation from notable entities including Nvidia, Microsoft, OpenAI, Bezos Expeditions and Amazon’s Industrial Innovation Fund.1 As part of the deal, Figure AI will partner with OpenAI to develop next generation AI models for humanoid robots, and it will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud services for AI infrastructure, training, and storage.2 Founded in 2022, Figure AI’s robot, Figure 01, uses two legs and five-fingered hands to move and manipulate objects with precision.3 Tesla showcased improvements to its Optimus humanoid robot, which now walks at a record speed of 1.34 mph, a 30% increase from previous demonstrations. Eventually, Optimus is expected to reach speeds up to 5 mph.4 Thanks to recent technological advancements and decreasing production costs, the Global X team estimates that by 2035, over 100 million humanoid robots will be operational across a variety of environments, including factories, distribution centers, offices, elderly homes, households, and more.5

Electric Vehicles

Global EV Sales and Production Remain Resilient

Despite some headwinds across the EV value chain in 2023, global EV sales (including battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid) totaled 1.1 million units in January 2024, a 69% year-over-year (YoY) increase and a new monthly global record.6 Sales in China nearly doubled, with 668,000 new EV’s registered, or roughly 32% of all new car registrations.7 Sales increased 41% in North America and 29% in Europe.8 In the second half of 2023, the United States added nearly 1,100 public fast-charging EV stations.9 With the 16% YoY increase, the country now has one  fast-charging EV station for every 16 gas stations.10 Toyota announced plans for another $1.3 billion investment in its Kentucky factory for EV production, starting with an electric SUV. General Motors will add four models to its South Korea lineup in 2024, including two EVs, the Chevrolet Equinox EV and Cadillac LYRIQ.11 Chinese automaker BYD also recently unveiled U9, a new electric supercar that can hit speeds of 192 mph, comparable to high-end models produced by industry heavyweights like Ferrari.12

Artificial Intelligence & Technology

Generative AI Achieves Breakthroughs in Audio and Video Modalities

OpenAI launched a new video-generation model dubbed Sora that can create realistic and imaginative scenes from text instructions. The text-to-video model allows users to generate up to one-minute-long photorealistic videos from written prompts.13 The model can also generate a video based on a still image and fill in missing frames on an existing video or extend it.14 Adobe unveiled Project Music GenAI Control, a versatile platform capable of creating audio from textual descriptions or a melody reference.15 Users can fine-tune key elements like tempo, intensity, patterns, and overall structure, all within their workflow. Users can also extend tracks to any length, enabling remixes or endless, seamless loops.16 Updates about OpenAI’s existing models include financial services firm Klarna’s AI chatbot assistant, handling 2.3 million conversations in its first month, the equivalent of 700 full-time agents.17


Global Hydrogen Industry Is Ready to Scale Up

The overwhelming response to the European Commission’s inaugural European Hydrogen Bank underscores the interest in renewable hydrogen production. The subsidy auction garnered 132 bids from 17 European Union countries, totaling 8.5-gigawatt (GW) of potential electrolyzer capacity.18 Selected projects, which are expected to receive notification by April or May, will be held to a five-year deadline to commence production. The number of bids far exceeded the auctions €800 million budget, meaning only a fraction of the projects can procure subsidies this round.19 If fully realized, the bids could generate up to 8.8 million tons of renewable hydrogen, achieving nearly achieving 10% of the EU’s 2030 goal.20 Major conglomerates Caterpillar, Microsoft, and Ballard Power Systems are collaborating to explore the use of hydrogen fuel cells for data center backup power. Their project, a 1.5-megawatt (MW) hydrogen fuel cell at Microsoft’s data center in Wyoming, proved its efficacy in a 48-hour backup power trial, marking a significant step towards sustainable energy solutions.21

Telemedicine & Digital Health

AI-Driven Innovation Fuels Growth for Digital Health Providers

Medical networking service Doximity and telehealth company Him & Hers are leveraging AI investments in an effort to significantly boost their growth in the healthcare sector. Doximity has introduced several AI-powered products aimed at the medical community which has helped boost user engagement to record highs.22 Unique active users on a quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis are all up double-digit percentages over the past year.23 The company’s AI writing assistant, DoximityGPT, is widely used for drafting essential medical documents.24 Similarly, Him & Hers, which provides an extensive personal health solution platform has continued to witness digital tailwinds keep growth elevated, which has allowed management to invest more aggressively in technology-first offerings in mental health, weight loss, and dermatology. The company’s specialty vertical is expected to add nearly $100 million in revenues by 2025.25 Mental health is one area where adoption of AI is sticking, as its role to predict patient responses to medication is streamlining treatment approaches by minimizing the guesswork in medication selection.


Ransomware Attacks Intensify, Global Defenses Fortify

Hackers stole a record $1 billion through ransomware attacks in 2023 alone and the threats continue into 2024.26 Good news is that in one of the largest cybercrime operations to date, a global alliance of law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Justice Department and the U.K. National Crime Agency’s Cyber Division, struck a significant blow against the notorious Lockbit ransomware, a tool frequently used by cybercriminals to target critical institutions, such as hospitals and schools. By dismantling Lockbit’s infrastructure, law enforcement effectively shut down its operations and replaced its dark web platform with a repository of informative resources and victim support.27 That’s welcome news for healthcare, in particular. Change Healthcare, a unit of UnitedHealthcare responsible for processing 15 billion health-related transactions annually, recently revealed that ransomware hackers disrupted its operations.28 Doctors and hospitals have been unable to bill for services, and patients have faced difficulties in accessing prescriptions. Given the increasing sophistication of cyberattacks like these, worldwide spending on cybersecurity and risk management is projected to increase 14.35% YoY to $215 billion in 2024.29


The following charts examine returns and sales growth expectations by theme, based on their corresponding ETFs or indices.


To learn more about the disruptive themes changing our world, read the latest research from Global X, including:


To see individual ETF holdings and current performance across the Global X Thematic Growth Suite, including information on the indexes shown, click these links:

Appendix: Thematic Expected Sales Growth Graph Indices

AgTech & Food Innovation: Solactive AgTech & Food Innovation Index

Aging Population: Indxx Aging Population Thematic Index

Artificial Intelligence & Technology: Indxx Artificial Intelligence & Big Data Index

Autonomous & Electric Vehicles: Solactive Autonomous & Electric Vehicles Index

Blockchain: Solactive Blockchain Index

Clean Water: Solactive Global Clean Water Industry Index

CleanTech: Indxx Global CleanTech Index

Cloud Computing: Indxx Global Cloud Computing Index

Cybersecurity: Indxx Cybersecurity Index

Data Center REITs & Digital Infrastructure: Solactive Data Center REITs & Digital Infrastructure Index

Defense Tech: Global X Defense Tech Index

Disruptive Materials: Solactive Disruptive Materials Index

E-Commerce: Solactive E-commerce Index

FinTech: Indxx Global FinTech Thematic Index

Genomics: Solactive Genomics Index

Hydrogen: Solactive Global Hydrogen Index

Internet Of Things: Indxx Global Internet of Things Thematic Index

Lithium & Battery Technology: Solactive Global Lithium Index

Millennial Consumer: Indxx Millennials Thematic Index

PropTech: Global X PropTech Index

Renewable Energy Producers: Indxx Renewable Energy Producers Index

Robotics & Artificial Intelligence: Indxx Global Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Thematic Index

Social Media: Solactive Social Media Total Return Index

Solar: Solactive Solar Index

Telemedicine & Digital Health: Solactive Telemedicine & Digital Health Index

U.S. Infrastructure: Indxx U.S. Infrastructure Development Index

Video Games & Esports: Solactive Video Games & Esports Index

Wind Energy: Solactive Wind Energy Index