The practical uses of AI and 5G

There has been, and continues to be, a lot of talk about the advantages of artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G. Not everyone is convinced, and there is a swathe of people who fear both technologies, although often for different reasons. Perhaps they would be more convinced about their benefits if they grasped the practical uses.

Smart automation is one of them. Automation’s aim is to reduce human error, as well as maximise productivity. In the case of ‘smart automation’, AI provides the ‘smarts’ by analyzing a series of tasks and streamlining them. By combining this with 5G, mobile service providers would be able to “offer simpler activations, higher performance and the rapid deployment of new services, according to Will Townsend and Moor Insights. This would increase revenues and provide an enhanced user experience, thanks to more reliable network connections.

Townsend also believes that AI would “enable network operators to move from reactive to proactive issue resolution.” The technology would allow them to evaluate huge amounts of data when troubleshooting any network anomalies, while “5G should enable networks to better handle these predictive functions’ complexity and support significantly more connected devices.” Townsend also thinks, “one of the most significant impacts of AI in mobile networks will be the reduction of subscriber churn.” That is interesting, as building and retaining a customer base is critical for telecoms companies.

Both AI and 5G will undoubtedly speed up digital transformation in businesses. The need for this has become more apparent in 2020, with legions of employees working from home. As a result, the networks have been under significant pressure “from a scalability, reliability and security perspective.” What has ensued is connectivity infrastructure providers are embracing AIOps for its potential to supercharge DevOps and SecOps.

Lastly, AI and 5G in both the consumer and enterprise markets will vastly transform the user experience. For example, “AI has the potential to reduce the number of subscriber service choices, presenting the most relevant ones based on past behaviour,” Townsend says. This will in turn build greater loyalty among subscribers, as well as more monetization opportunities for the operator.

In conclusion, there is a great deal of synergy between AI and 5G. It will mean mobile networks are not simple the means of access to data. AI promises to also “improve new device provisioning, deliver high application and connectivity performance, accelerate digital transformation and provide exceptional user experiences.” As Townsend says: it’s a win-win for everyone.

How AI could have saved our sanity in the US election

I’m not quite sure where you would have to live to have avoided the US elections this week. The trailer for it has been running for months, and the polls hyped a clear Democrat win. As we wait for the final count, with no Blue landslide in sight, there must be so many people scratching their heads, wondering why it is that political pollsters always seem to get it so wrong.

Mark Minevich’s article in Forbes takes a look at the issue, and starts by asking why do countries still use antiquated voting systems, which one of the candidates constantly insists is fraudulent, but only if the votes are going against him mind!

As he points out, Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers us the means to “make every election day going forward safe, efficient, and most importantly, secure.” It would remove the long lines of voters waiting to cast their vote, and no dependence on mail-in votes. Instead we would have instant results that are 100% accurate.

Several AI products are already available that could have been deployed, such as FiscalNote. Its AI platform is primarily use for policy insights. It could be leveraged, Minevich says,  “for voter education where a voter communicates the kinds of policy that will affect them and their families.”

With voter education also in mind, iSIdeWith is another AI tool that “gives citizens an opportunity to better educate themselves on which candidate more aligns with their personal views.” With citizens assaulted by so many news stories, and it being harder to separate the truth from disinformation, it is hard to know what to believe. This platform could assist with helping voters decide on what is fact and what aligns with the world they want to vote for.

Foreign interference has been a theme in the US news since the 2016 election. However, scholars at New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University and New York University have developed an AI tool that “can predict when inflammatory social media posts are coming from foreign Internet trolls.” This is ideal for social media platforms seeking “to weed out and eliminate foreign trolls attempting to provide disinformation to potential voters,” as Minevich says.

And then there is the voting itself and the count: a slow process in the US. KCore uses AI to predict elections worldwide. It analyses “real-time social media to give a quicker and remarkably accurate method of predicting election trends.” This could be used to predict voter turnout, thus ensuring election officials are properly prepared, and the count is more efficient.

There are several other AI platforms available that are ready to be used in the election sphere. Minevich believes that if these tools were in place, we’d see much higher turnouts and more people engaged with the democratic process. Society and the state would benefit from better voter education that leads to greater engagement. Perhaps the USA will get its voting system right next time by using AI, although its pollsters will still probably provide them with false hope or a feeling of sinking depression in the run-up.

The Future That is on Its Way to You!

We should be preparing for a set of major macro trends, Bernard Marr has written, after a discussion with Scott Smith of Changeist. Some of the trends already pre-dated the Covid-19 pandemic, but have been accelerated by it, and both men warn that these trends are ones we should not ignore.

Decoupled economies

According to Marr and Smith, the ‘decoupling’ of economies has been happening for around a decade. The result is a turn to nationalism in some of the world’s biggest economies, such as the USA, the UK, Brazil, Russia and India. As they say, ‘globalization is in the rearview mirror’ now, and we can expect a ‘multipolar world’ where three or four large regions with their own “distinct economies, security networks, cultures, and laws.”

Social change

Education, transportation, energy, food, and healthcare are in the midst of massive changes, much of it spurred on by the recognition that climate change is not a hoax. We are seeing a swell in the numbers of vegans and vegetarians due to livestock production accounting for 14.5% of greenhouse gases. There is also a transition to cleaner transport, and in the energy sector there is a move to meet the emissions reduction targets agreed to as part of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Covid-19 has also produced a transition to more working from home, and we are still grappling with this sudden change in our work life.

A new social contract?

The traditional social contract between citizens and government is no longer working for a significant number of individuals. Marr writes, “Societies have become divided between the haves and have nots, and any differences, whether religion, race, or sexual orientation, create chasms rather than common ground in the echo chamber of social media.” Automation threatens some workers, while the idea of a universal basic income has become a much hotter topic, as will debates about the nature of the future social contract between people, businesses and governments.

An AI reset

Currently we are seeing what is called an ‘AI reset’. The technology presents challenges that need to be carefully considered now, such as the regulatory obstacles and cost of development. On the other hand AI is accelerating and Smith believes another big wave is on the way.

Who are you?

Our personal identity would seem to be solid, yet thanks to digital technology it is varied and complex. Marr writes, “Today we have the ability to represent ourselves as a “stack” of identities that account for various affiliations, situations, values, and more.” Virtual and augmented reality has added to this ‘stacking’. As Marr says, “Given the tools at our disposal, smartphones, social media, and technology, we are free to create a digital narrative about who we are that might not match our physical world persona.”

Finally, we are facing life in a “blend of the physical, biological, and digital worlds.” The ‘new normal’ will be a combination of the physical and digital, and “Every organization must now consider how they provide products and services equally as well and complementary, whether interacting online or in the physical world.”

Some will welcome these trends, while others will be less enthusiastic. Whatever your view, it’s not difficult to see that regardless of opinion, this is our direction of travel.

Covid-19 sparks the tech trends of 2021

This year, 2020, has been such a disaster that looking forward to 2021 is our only option. Of course, while making predictions used to be a fairly safe occupation, now it feels slightly dangerous. Furthermore, as Bernard Marr reminds us in Forbes, “tech has been affected just as much as every other part of our lives.”

It is also true that tech promises to play a major role in adapting to whatever the future may now look like. As Marr says: “From the shift to working from home to new rules about how we meet and interact in public spaces, tech trends will be the driving force in managing the change.”

You would be correct in thinking that Covid-19 has accelerated tech advances that were already in the pipeline, due to our increasingly digital lifestyle. Now they will happen quicker, because necessity is driving the change.

In Marr’s latest book, Tech Trends in Practice, he has identified some of the things we may see in 2021, many of which will support the recovery from the effects of the pandemic on almost every part of our lives.

He identifies Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a leading tech trend. In 2021 “it will become an even more valuable tool for helping us to interpret and understand the world around us.” We have seen an unprecedented amount of data collected around Covid, and machine-learning algorithms “will become better informed and increasingly sophisticated in the solutions they uncover for us.” Some of the AI tools Marr envisages include “ computer vision systems monitoring the capacity of public areas to analyzing the interactions uncovered through contact tracing initiatives, self-learning algorithms will spot connections and insights that would go unnoticed by manual human analysis.”

The provision of services that we need to live and work through cloud-based, on-demand platforms, known as ‘as a service’ providers are also key. Just look at how quickly Zoom entered our personal and business lives during the last few months.

5G is another key tool, and not just so you can download films faster. 5G will support services relying on advanced technologies, such as augmented reality and virtual reality (discussed below) as well as cloud-based gaming platforms, and it will likely make cable and fibre-based networks redundant.

Extended reality, virtual and augmented reality that uses glasses or headsets to project computer-generated imagery directly into the user’s field of vision is growing. Emergency services have already been using it for training during Covid, as real-life training situations for firefighters and police were not feasible. We may also see it used more in medical diagnostics, as face-to-face consultations decrease.

There will be many more tech advances as we grapple with an uncertain future. The aim is to make everyday activities safer for everyone, and to allow business to continue as we negotiate our way through a new environment.