Now is an exciting time to be an engineer or technology enthusiast. We're starting to see ideas that were talked about as only concepts in science fiction, making their way into the mainstream.
For instance, AI(artificial intelligence) and 5G(fifth-generation telecom technology) are the most frequently heard buzzwords. Be it a keynote speech or a research paper, these buzzwords are always there somewhere. They were ringing in my ears all the time during the Mobile World Congress Shanghai late last month.
China Mobile, the nation's top telecom carrier, has pledged last week to implement a "Double Gigabyte" initiative, supporting superfast internet connection for both mobile and fixed broadband connections.
According to its Vice-President Jian Qin, the company will allocate 100 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) to facilitate the internet connectivity infrastructure to reach the above standard across 100 cities by 2020.
He spoke about the use of AI technologies in building smart homes, neighborhoods and cities through immersive and interactive experience in educational, medical, transportation and other scenarios.
Undoubtedly, 5G and AI are helping speed up the process of making a robot steward that can oversee all domestic affairs a reality. But how AI and 5G can pair up to accomplish wonders needs a bit of explanation.
5G, as an advanced digital cellular network protocol, opens up new frequency spectrum, bringing with it much higher throughput and latency performance. It is not just merely an upgraded 4G - it taps new spectrum that is 100 times faster, and greatly enhances end-user experience of mobility, besides driving innovative business opportunities and user cases.
While 5G can be regarded as a string of new technologies, the logic of algorithm behind AI has some profound history. Data sets and the expected outcomes associated with them are input into a processor and it outputs a pattern. And that means the accuracy of machine learning and the amounts of data are positively correlated.
It is thus fairly easy to comprehend why AI needs 5G to thrive because the latter is feeding the invaluable troves of data for algorithms to keep improving themselves. Meanwhile, AI, driven by advances in machine learning, provides the ability to make sense of the chaos and complexity of 5G.
To start with, AI can smartly manage the deployment and operations of 5G technologies, detecting malfunctions in real time and significantly trimming operational costs. This would ensure the smooth user experience of 5G to a wealth of end-devices hungry for broad bandwidth.
Another tantalizing example of the AI-5G tie-up is autonomous driving. Autonomous cars are essentially data centers on wheels. That "intelligence" requires the rich and rapid movement of data that 5G is expected to offer.
Many Chinese cities are gearing up to build themselves into smart cities, which can only be achieved by the marriage of the smart brain of AI and a fast mobile communication infrastructure like 5G.