There is no science fiction any more

There is no science fiction any more

The Digital Life - Editor's Write

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

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THOSE who feasted on comic strips marvelled at detective Dick Tracy's two-way wrist radio, an “invention” of the strip's creator in the 1980s. Fast-forward to watches created by Apple and Samsung linked to your phone, carrying out many functions. It is no longer easy to predict where technology will take us but we can try, since so much now depends on the role of technology in our lives.

Bill Gates, one of the geniuses behind the development of Microsoft, and Andy Grove, another genius who developed Intel as the very foundation of the chip industry, were asked several years ago about the future of technology. They were both right and wrong in their predictions, proving that the increased pace of technological developments has outpaced what we see in the movies.

Predicting the future is not the stuff of science fiction coming to life but a sober expectation shared by one of today's tech leaders, president of Huawei, Liang Hua. The way he sees it, the digital economy will generate more than 30 per cent of global GDP by 2025.

Hua recently expressed his ideas on the ICT sector and the digital future of the new era of intelligence. He outlines his vision of a fully connected and digital world that drives the digital economy and industry.

“Digital innovation is leading us into a new era of intelligence. A smarter, better and greener life is on the horizon. Many revolutionary technologies will be the driving force behind this change. Connectivity and computing are key in this transformation,” Hua explains.

He pointed out the key trends that will contribute to this groundbreaking shift to digital:

•Wearable technology will enable us to take charge of our health, wherever we are;

•Ultra-HD 4K/8K video along with artificial intelligence, cloud computing, augmented reality, and virtual reality systems will change everything;

•By 2025 more than half of the world's population will be making use of 5G;

•Live broadcasts with high definition and 3D technology without the use of glasses will reshape our virtual entertainment, along with our remote learning experience.

He further expects that these technologies will continue to improve the industry and the digital economy while simultaneously providing experiences for consumers to improve governance and while enabling enterprises to digitise faster.

Hua has also called on world leaders to create an industrial ecosystem based on open collaboration.

“We are at a critical tipping point. ICT and other technologies are merging to drive industrial digitisation,” he said. “It is a key moment to develop the digital economy. Companies must work with their partners and customers from different sectors to drive innovation and create more opportunities. Only a fully connected world will be able to manage digitisation, balance economic growth and environmental protection, and address the rest of the challenges we face.”

Meantime, Gates described how he envisions the future of work during an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin at The New York Times' DealBook conference. According to Gates, one of the most significant changes to how business is conducted will have to do with work-related travel. “My prediction would be that over 50 per cent of business travel and over 30 per cent of days in the office will go away,” Gates said.

The type of business travel where it's essential to fly somewhere to physically sit in front of someone else to discuss something in person won't be the gold standard anymore, Gates said. He predicts most companies will have a “very high threshold” for doing those types of business trips.

When it comes to working from home, “some companies will be extreme on one end or the other”, Gates said, likely alluding to companies like Twitter which have said their employees may work remotely forever, from anywhere.

Just when we are getting accustomed to virtual meetings, Gates revealed one downside: the inability to meet new people. He told Sorkin that he hadn't made new friends this year because he never meets people at random. “More could be done on the software side to allow for serendipitous run-ins after meetings,” Gates said.

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