In disturbing stock market times, what are the secrets of successful investing? A select audience of Edinburgh’s great and moneyed was treated last week to a non-Fringe show starring Scots entrepreneur Jim Mellon, who is worth £850million and has been called Britain’s answer to legendary investor Warren Buffett.

In the surroundings of the capital’s 228-year-old New Club, Mellon expounded his manifesto of how to make your investment future-proof, as technology transforms our world.

Mellon, 58, the Oxford-educated son of a diplomat, made his first million 30 years ago as a young fund manager, but unlike Buffett now invests only privately.

His biggest coup was an £80m profit from a uranium business he co-founded and sold to the French government for £1.6bn, his biggest loss an £11m hit on German property.

He owns the highest flat in San Francisco and has homes in London, Berlin, St Anton, Ibiza, Brussels – and his native Edinburgh, where his father still lived until last year.

He spoke at the invitation of Alan Steel, the respected independent financial adviser, whose client roster of top names in finance, the judiciary, sport and business, packed out the event.

“If you stick to the same old routine in investments you won’t make any money, only two companies in the Dow Jones survive from the 1930s,” Mellon began.

“Technology is going to morph into something much more dramatic which will affect every one of us and the extent and quality of our lives into the next 20 years or so. We are going to live a lot longer, a lot healthier, and that means you are going to have to make your money last a lot longer and curate it a lot better.”

China had been tipped, at an April investment conference in London, as “the greatest buy in the history of the world”, Mellon recalled. “That marked the absolute top of the Chinese market,” he said. “In the long-term China could well be a great place to invest, but the difference between me buying China today and buying it back in April is the difference between making a really good return, and not such a good return, long-term. You can choose the best investments but you have also got to get your timing right.”

In the US, companies were buying back their own shares at record levels. “That is not a good sign,” Mellon said. “My recommendation is basically stay away from the bulk of the US market at the moment. I think we could see it another 10 to 20 per cent down.” (He would sell Apple, buy Hewlett-Packard.)

The Midas man is wary of Europe, but likes Japan. In the UK market, he says avoid the big internationally-exposed players such as Diageo, Unilever and Rolls-Royce - though he likes HSBC - and stick to smaller domestic companies, such as Ladbrokes.

As for government bonds, Mellon was scathing about the fund managers who have been buying them with negative yields – taking a built-in loss.

“This is completely and utterly crazy,” he said. “This distortion will come to an end, and all those people who are managing pension funds and insurance companies who have done those trades are going to look like fools which is what they are....There are not many bonds that you should hold and that includes government gilts.”

The investment upside lies in thinking about the future, said Mellon, whose book ‘Cracking the Code’ investigated Silicon Valley’s biotechnology ventures which are transforming medicine.

The official figures for Scottish life expectancy were still 78 for men and 80 for women, Mellon said. “That is absolute nonsense...I guarantee that most women, and men too, born today will live to 100. The first person who will live to 150 is alive today.”

He went on: “The pace of technology is accelerating, we can’t see anything other than the fraction of it that directly affects our lives, we have to stand back and think what is really happening in the world.”

Every few days, the information available on the internet doubles. “Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are trying to innovate new disruptive ways of doing things, including in finance with Lending Club, Crowdcube and so on – it’s the first element of an internet wave that is about to overwhelm us.”

In the Mellon crystal ball, driverless cars will take over our roads within 20 years, killing far fewer people and also the entire motor insurance industry. The internet of things, where gadgets speak to one another and to centralised controls, and the development of cheap robots with artificial intelligence, will “represent a fantastic leap forward for mankind”, Mellon enthused. Instead of worrying about shortages of bricklayers “we will be able to build houses in six weeks”, he said.

Companies would rise and fall ever more quickly, with failing models pushed out of the way. “The cycle of destruction is one you have to be right on top of,” Mellon said. Beware investors in at least two of the UK’s favourite stocks.

“Companies like Shell and BP are not the ones to invest in,” Mellon warned. “They are status quo investments in the past.”