The saturation of articles about artificial intelligence (AI) makes it hard for those endowed with the traditional grey matter to come to grips with either the manifold benefits – or dastardly consequences – of the trend.

Chatbot tells us the coverage reflects “the growing interest, significance, and impact of AI in our society” – which we kind of nutted out ourselves.

Suffice to say that unlike that other great tech advancement – yep, the Segway – AI won’t be rolling into oblivion in a hurry. This is especially the case with the advent of ‘generative AI’: the ability to create and condense not just text but images and video content.

Investor interest in AI has centred on the Nasdaq listed chip maker Nvidia, which has joined a rarefied group of seven other stocks with a $US1 trillion-plus market valuation.

Not surprisingly, the hunt is on for the local equivalents of Nvidia, which makes the computer hardware and chips that can process billions of calculations simultaneously – and many times faster than the previous iterations.

While there are plenty of ASX tech stocks delving into AI, few are pure-play and some of them are a tad obscure.

Take the $730 million market cap Brainchip (ASX:BRN) which is commercialising Akida, a neuromorphic process to provide and improve data to develop machine-learning and AI products.

We’ll take them at their word.

Weebit Nano (ASX:WBT) develops “resistive random-access memory technologies which are a specialised form of non-volatile memory for the semiconductor industry.”

We’re not quite sure what that means either, but the stock is valued at $1.2 billion so the market gets it.

Broker RBS highlights the handmaiden tech stocks: those that will facilitate AI rather than develop the core breakthrough technology.

One is NextDC (ASX:NXT), which builds the data centres (DCs) to store and provide the massive amount of computer oomph (and electricity) required. The stock is feeling the love, up 42 per cent since the start of the year and now worth $6.5 billion.

“Training large language models requires a new level of computational intensity,” RBC says.

“Future data centre workloads will likely be multiples of current levels, leading to materially higher demand for DCs that are capable of providing the required data storage and [computer power] to support generative AI.”

Pundits might also consider Macquarie Technology Group (ASX:MAQ), worth a more digestible $1.4 billion.

Formerly Macquarie Telecom, the company this week announced a $130 million placement to expand its data centre presence to capitalise on – you guessed it – “cloud and AI megatrends.”

Further along the AI superhighway, the $1.2 billion Megaport (ASX:MP1) provides the networks for data to travel efficiently from the DCs, thus avoiding massive traffic jams.

Alternatively, exchange traded funds (ETFs) enable a diversified and global entrée into the sector – or at least the closely related fields of automation and robotics.

The two key ones on the ASX are Betashares Global Robotics and Artificial Intelligence ETF (ASX:RBTZ) and Global X’s Robotics and Automation ETF (ASX:ROBO).

With $180 million under management, RBTZ houses just over 40 stocks, most notably Nvidia which accounts for about 11 per cent of the portfolio’s value.

ROBO’s biggest holding is in the surgical innovator Intuitive Surgical – which is also RBTZ’s second biggest holding – and automated storage systems provider Kardex Holding.

The selling point of ETFs is they avoid the single-exposure risks inherent in picking AI winners.

For instance, shares in US online education support provider Chegg have plunged on signs that students are turning to ChatGPT for free information instead.

Well of course they are: they have brains.

This story does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.