Railroads. Automobiles. Personal computers. The internet.

What do all these things have in common? They're all examples of innovations from the past that have created huge new industries -- and made many early investors rich in the process.

There are three newer innovations that could join the list -- artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and gene editing. It's still early enough for each of these areas that investors can make a lot of money by buying the right stocks. But which stocks should you select? Here's why buying NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA)Ambarella (NASDAQ:AMBA), and Intellia Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NTLA) could make you rich.

Man smiling with hands outstretched while money falls from the sky

Image source: Getty Images.

Artificial intelligence: NVIDIA

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the development of computer systems that can perform tasks typically requiring human intelligence. Some of the biggest technology companies in the world are betting big on the potential for AI. And they all need chips with the processing power to run their AI systems. That's where NVIDIA comes in.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a story about AI that doesn't mention NVIDIA . The company's graphics chips have proven to be exactly what is needed for AI systems, especially deep learning -- a powerful AI approach that uses complex artificial neural networks. Several of the largest automakers are using NVIDIA's chips, for example, as a cornerstone of their driverless car initiatives.

Some might think it's too late to reap huge rewards from buying NVIDIA, since the stock has soared over 700% in just the last three years. However, the current use of AI is just the tip of the iceberg. NVIDIA's growth potential remains tremendous. In addition, the stock recently pulled back off its highs, giving investors a good opportunity to buy this hot AI stock.   

Augmented and virtual reality: Ambarella

Augmented reality (AR) is the overlaying of digital information with the physical world in real time. A recent example is the Pokemon Go game that swept the country. Virtual reality (VR) is a totally simulated environment that individuals can interact with similarly to the real world. These related areas could be huge in the coming years. NVIDIA is a key player in the AR and VR markets. So is a much smaller company -- Ambarella.

If you've heard of Ambarella already, it's probably because the company supplies the video-processing chips for GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO). However, Ambarella also markets a system-on-chip that is used in 360-degree VR cameras. The company's imaging chips are used in AR glasses as well.

The most exciting new product on the way from Ambarella is its computer-vision chip, which enables devices to analyze and respond to the world using the information they collect from digital video. There are lots of uses for such a chip, including both AR and VR.

Ambarella stock is in a bit of a slump right now, primarily due to news that GoPro would go with a rival's chip for a new product and more competition in the market for chips powering cameras used in drones. Still, though, Ambarella's prospects continue to be significant, especially with the coming launch of its computer-vision chip.

Gene editing: Intellia Therapeutics

Gene editing is the insertion, deletion, or replacement of DNA in a cell or organism. The potential for use of gene editing to develop new treatments for genetic disease is enormous. And one of the pioneers in gene editing is Intellia Therapeutics.

Intellia was founded by one of the co-discoverers of the CRISPR-Cas9 method of editing genes. The small biotech has attracted the attention of a couple of major biopharmaceutical companies, including Regeneron (NASDAQ:REGN). Last year, Regeneron teamed up with Intellia to develop gene-editing therapies. The big biotech also bought a stake in its smaller partner. 

Regeneron no doubt sees what many see in Intellia: a huge opportunity. Intellia is exploring use of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing in treating rare genetic diseases including transthyretin amyloidosis and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, as well as hepatitis B. If the company is successful in its efforts, shareholders could be sitting on a gold mine.  

Risks before riches

There are significant risks for each of these stocks, though. All three have several tough competitors. Intellia must leap the same hurdles that any clinical-stage biotech faces. In addition, the company has uncertainty related to the outcome of an ongoing patent battle over CRISPR-Cas9 technology. 

But it seems highly likely that AI, AR/VR, and gene editing will take their place in the group of innovations that created fortunes. I think NVIDIA, Amabarella, and Intellia Therapeutics should be three of the stocks that make those fortunes possible for some far-thinking investors.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.