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Business

Biology meets AI

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes - The Philippine Star

During the World Economic Forum, Nokia CEO Pekka Lundmark said he expects 6G, or sixth generation mobile networks, to be in operation by the end of the decade.

But he does not think that the smartphone will be the most common interface by then.

Nokia and other tech companies like Huawei expect 6G technology to be on the market by around 2030. They also foresee that by then, the world will move away from using smartphones to using smart glasses and other devices that are worn on the face. Some of these things, Lundmark said, would even be built directly into our bodies.

Elon Musk’s Neuralink is working on producing electronic devices that can be implanted into the brain and used for communication with machines and other people. Another possibility is for chips to be implanted into people’s fingers and used to unlock things.

US tech giants such as Meta, Google and Microsoft meanwhile are working on new augmented reality headsets that could replace the smartphone, according to a report from cnbc.com.

And all these, the article noted, are happening while the world is only just getting to grips with 5G, which refers to next-generation mobile networks that offer super-fast data speeds that promise to support technologies like driverless cars and virtual reality.

In the same forum, Google CFO Ruth Porat said things like having glasses and being able to translate as you speak with glasses are very close.

By 2030, Nokia’s Lundmark said there would be a digital twin of everything that will require massive computational resources, but in order to transmit all the computer bits that the metaverse will require, networks will need to be at least 100 or even 1,000 times faster than they are today.

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What exactly is 6G?

According to a research paper published in ericsson.com, 6G will make it possible to move in a cyberphysical continuum, between the connected physical world of senses, actions, and experiences, and its programmable digital representation.

It explains that compared to the metaverse which is a virtual reality/augmented reality world where avatars interact, the cyberphysical continuum will provide a close link to reality, where digital objects are projected into physical objects that are represented digitally, allowing them to seamlessly coexist as merged reality and enhance the real world.

For instance, a digitalized and programmable world cdeliver interactive 4D maps of whole cities that are precise in position and time and can be simultaneously accessed and modified by large numbers of humans and intelligent machines for detailed planning of activities, the paper noted. Such cyberphysical service platforms, it said, can issue commands to large-scale steerable systems, like public transport, waste handling, or water and heating management systems.

Another possible application, it said, would be in the area of healthcare. The report explained that the advent of precision healthcare, enabled by miniature nodes measuring bodily functions and devices issuing medications and physical assistance, will be supported by a continuously analyzed digital representation online. This would require devices that can be se safely embedded virtually anywhere that are maintenance-free.

The report also said that real-time 4D maps are needed to manage the intense traffic of future cities with autonomous vehicles on the ground and in the air. A network sensor fabric, where accurate measurements and world data are aggregated from sensing base stations and on-board vehicle sensors, and then shared together with trajectories, can be used to guide safe, clean, and efficient transport.

Lifewire.com quoted Marcus Weldon of Nokia Bell Labs as saying that 6G will be a sixth sense experience for humans and machines where biology meets artificial intelligence or AI. Japan’s NTT Docomo meanwhile predicts that 6G will make it possible for cyberspace to support human thought and action in real time through wearable devices and microdevices mounted on the human body.

For its part, Huawei says that 6G will go far beyond communications – it will serve as a distributed neural network that provides communication links to fuse the physical, cyber and biological worlds.

As someone pointed out, 6G technology will basically make today’s science fiction an everyday reality.

“Imagine being able to see, hear, touch, smell and taste your virtual reality experience. That sounds fantastic for games, but imagine it applied to prosthetics. Prosthetic users could have seamless, possibly even neurological, integration with their devices and instantaneous response, perhaps using WiFi implants… Think super-efficient manufacturing or ports, or traffic-flow maintenance that is variable with traffic conditions minute by minute… Autonomous or unmanned vehicles, planes are a possibly with the sort of network coverage, data capacity, and low latency being discussed,” according to one post on netscout.com.

Techmonitor.ai says that mobile network operators across the world are investing heavily in 6G and that according to GSMA Intelligence, around 10 percent of operators across the world are running 6G research and development programs. Telecommunications firm NTT has announced a pilot of 6G networks by 2025 while the South Korean government is planning to launch its own 6G network in 2026. The EU has launched its large-scale 6G research and innovation program while other countries such as the US and Japan have expressed and invested in their own 6G research initiatives, the same report revealed.

Samsung Electronics for its part announced that it is laying out its vision for securing global frequency bands for 6G.

Meanwhile, the Oppo Research Institute said that it believes that 6G will reshape the way people interact with AI like never before, allowing AI to become a truly public-serving technology that can be used by everyone.

Empowered by 6G, it said that smart devices will become important participants and users of AI, downloading and deploying AI algorithms at different application levels to create new immersive experiences while also constantly collecting data to feed more advanced AI models. For example, Oppo said in the case of autonomous vehicles, 6G networks will be able to assign the most AI algorithm and the optimal communication connection based on the location of the vehicle and the current physical environment such as time of day and weather. The vehicle will be able to immediately download and run AI algorithms that have been trained by countless other vehicles and devices, allowing the vehicle to provide the safest and most comfortable journey for the passenger.

Technology should be our slave and should not enslave us humans. Current technology may have reached its limits in terms of providing solutions to everyday problems. 6G and its applications may just be exactly what we need.

 

 

For comments, e-mail at [email protected]

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