What to Expect in the Coming FutureBy Joaquin Saldaña | Wed, 10/13/2021 - 15:00
During the last couple of decades or so, the world has experienced huge changes due to ICT-based businesses. New services, such as home delivery, phone-based cab apps, cinema at home and e-commerce, have emerged and become part of our lives. Most people took those for granted, not even thinking of the overall ICT (information and communications technology) ecosystem behind them. That’s the beauty of those services. ICT in general became a kind of utility service that supports new services and products.
The near future will see new types of services arising that impact human life in a very positive way. When we hear what the future will bring in terms of ICT, we always hear terms such as low latency, high speed broadband, ubiquitous communication, IoT, virtual reality, robots and machine to machine communication (M2M) — terms that most of the time are very abstract and not easy to digest for many people.
Let’s try to do a mental exercise. Ten or 15 years ago, technologies like 4G and fiber to the home were reaching their mature stage and many similar terms were used to try to explain what they would bring. Most of the population probably did not pay attention or did not understand the terminology but they had become regular users of the products and services that were created based on that technology and now we enjoy Netflix, Google Maps, Waze, Uber, Didi and many more e-commerce apps. The relevant point is to use those apps that make our life easier.
Today, we hear that 5G is coming, that ultra-bandwidth connections are coming; based on Huawei’s 2030 Intelligent World white paper, the evolution of ICT will lead the world to grow in general computing power, reaching 3.3 ZFLOPS by 2030, which means 10 times the computing power we had in 2020. There will be 200 billion connections worldwide, supporting M2M, wearables, robots, and others; 1.6 billion subscribers will have fiber broadband service; 23 percent of homes will have 10 gigabit broadband access; 40 percent of companies will have 10 gigabit Wi-Fi networks; 1 million 5G private or virtual private networks will exist; and the list goes on. But the big question for the regular user, as it was in my mental exercise of 15 years ago, would be what’s in there for me? Will it affect me? How?
Instead of explaining each of those numbers or terms, let me try to picture the effect of all that in our daily life, as it will impact health, food, living spaces, transportation and enterprises, to mention just a few.
Health. By 2030, sensitive biosensors will be of widespread use and a massive amount of health data will be stored on the cloud, making health computable. People will be able to proactively manage their health, shifting focus from treatment to prevention. Driven by technologies such as IoT and AI, personalized treatments will become a reality. Portable medical devices will enable people to access coordinated telemedicine services from the comfort of their homes.
Food. By 2030, we will be producing visualized data graphs, which will make precision farming possible. Collecting data will enable us to control factors affecting crop growth, such as temperature and humidity, so that we can build vertical farms unaffected by uncertainties of climate and weather. 3D printing technologies are also introducing the possibility of artificial meat designed according to taste and dietary requirements. By 2030, we will be building more resilient and sustainable food systems and relying on firm data rather than the vagaries of the weather.
Living spaces. By 2030, we will no longer have to live with clutter. We will manage our possessions with digital catalogs powered by a 10 gigabit network, holograms and other technologies. Automatic delivery systems will bring household items from shared warehouses to our doors whenever we need them. Intelligent management systems that control our physical surroundings for automatic interactions will mean that the buildings where we live and work may produce net zero carbon. Next generation IoT operating systems will enable people to live and work in adaptive environments that understand their needs.
Transportation. By 2030, the transport system will see innovations across many different dimensions. Vehicles using green energy and controlled by autonomous driving will provide us with a mobile third space. Electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircrafts will make emergency rescue faster, reduce cost of delivering emergency medical supplies and may even change how people commute. Mobility solutions will be efficient, customized and shared, meaning that vehicles will be used much more consistently and travel will become greener. All of these will require secure and stable autonomous driving algorithms, cost-effective, reliable sensors, high speed, stable space-air-ground integrated networks and a central brain with massive computing power for traffic management. These technologies will be indispensable for developing connected, autonomous, shared, and electric vehicles that deliver a low-carbon transport experience.
Enterprises. By 2030, digital transformation will have brought a new wave of modernization to enterprises. They will use more productive machines, such as collaborative robots and autonomous mobile robots. New business models will be more people-centric, with increased flexibility in manufacturing, logistics, and other activities. Digitalization will help companies interweave and graphically monitor their supply chains for better resilience in the face of a dynamic market environment. And most importantly, they will eliminate human intervention for repetitive, hazardous and dangerous activities, preserving human safety.
As you can see the relevant thing to keep in mind is the positive impact of ICT in many fields of human interaction; ICT technology is not the goal, it’s an enabler for advances in other fields. So when thinking about 5G, Fiber Gigabit connections, instead of trying to figure them out, let’s try to visualize what new business models, products and services can be designed using them.
You may think this article is nothing more than futuristic imagining but it’s not. Many of the things mentioned here are already among us, such as medical devices; the change will come with the connection of all of those devices into a high speed network that will enable real-time interaction with many other devices and experts (doctors). That’s what the future of ICT will bring: wellness to all human beings.
(This article was written with abstracts from Huawei’s Intelligent World 2030. You may find the full white paper at https://www.huawei.com/en/giv)