Here are the best stock plays for artificial intelligence bulls

As companies dive into utilizing artificial intelligence that talks with us, plays music for us and drives our cars, investors may want to look to the big tech names that harness artificial intelligence.

Among experts' recommendations for the best ways to play the rise of artificial intelligence are Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook, as well as Tesla as it moves into the autonomous driving space. Google has been the most active player in buying artificial intelligence companies, acquiring 11 as of earlier this month, according to CB Insights.

And venture capital investors are taking notice. Global artificial intelligence equity funding surpassed $6.6 billion across 1,241 deals from 2011 to the first quarter of 2016, according to CB Insights data, and equity finance in the space grew from $282 million in 2011 to $2.4 billion in 2015.

"I think AI — artificial intelligence — is of equal magnitude to have a huge impact among many sectors, and it really comes about because of the speed of the ability of computers to process information," Rob Lutts, chief investment officer at Cabot Wealth Management, said Wednesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

"Just in the last five years, we've really accelerated the ability to do that. So this has opened up a tremendous amount of opportunity for many different industries," Lutts said, pointing to Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook, which Lutts said all capitalize on, and benefit from, artificial intelligence because of the massive amount of data they use.

"Another really interesting industry that's being changed today — and it's a debate whether it's actually AI or not — is autonomous driving," Lutts said, forecasting artificial intelligence could transform the "whole transportation" significantly.

Tesla last month said that it would begin equipping all its vehicles with self-driving hardware, and automaker Ford last month said it hopes to sell over 100,000 self-driving cars a year starting in 2021, and begin selling self-driving cars to consumers by 2025.

"AI is going to play a big role as we move forward in the next 5 to 10 years," Manish Mehta, an expert in artificial intelligence and mentor at the Techcode AI+ Accelerator program, told CNBC in an email.

"However, I think one fallacy in the current public consciousness is that AI is the panacea," Mehta wrote, adding that artificial intelligence in itself is "rarely sufficient" for developing an entire solution, and investors must ensure that a company in which they are investing has the "right team."

"When a new technology has so much buzz surrounding it, stakeholders tend to have unrealistic expectation about the potential results and the time frame in which those results can be achieved," he added.

Mehta expects conversational AI — the likes of Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa — will see big growth over the next five years, and sees similar growth potential for autonomous cars.


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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET). In addition, he contributes to CNBC and CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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