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THEME STORY: Hong Kong Re-industrialization. Opportunity?


HK I.T. needs to CATCH UP!

What are the Current IT Trends?

In an age when there is an unprecedentedly rapid advancement of technology, countless innovative technologies, new tools and novel ideas have sprung up. They not just bring convenience to and thus change our lives, but also facilitate the application of innovation and technology in various industries. Some IT experts have forecasted the five major trends in the technology world—that is, the blossoming of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the imminent arrival of 5G technology, the sprouting of quantum computing, the increasing usage of blockchain technology in daily lives and business sectors, as well as the popularization of autonomous tools like drones. In the latest 2019/2020 Budget, Mr Paul Chan Mo-po, Financial Secretary of HKSAR Government, once again emphasized the Government’s attachment of importance to the development of AI, and stated clearly that the Government will assign and auction spectrums in different frequency bands in batches to prepare for the development of 5G networks and services. In this light, what are the opportunities and challenges that will be brought by the AI technology and 5G network?

The AI Revolution and Challenges

The year of 2017 has been deemed as the “inaugural year of AI technology”. In 2018, AI had been applied in different fields and industries, such as the healthcare industry, financial and banking sectors, not to mention its wide appearance in our everyday lives. AI technology has revolutionized the healthcare industry in a way that the innovative AI tools and technologies can be used as assistance to doctors for medical diagnostics, thereby improving the efficiency of medical service. For example, the Faculty of Medicine of The Chinese University of Hong Kong has developed a Real-Time Computer-aided Diagnosis System for Cancer Screening during Colonoscopy in 2018. By adopting AI technology, this system can analyze each endoscopic image and then evaluate each polyp accurately, with a view to reducing the risk of miss-detecting and miss-classifying colorectal polyps. On the other hand, there were also several research breakthroughs on the field of Natural Language Processing (NLP) in 2018. In the Google I/O developer conference, Google presented the Google Duplex system, that is, an AI-driven assistant which helps users to make restaurant reservation through a phone call. These new technologies witness our new world replete with the AI innovations.

When it comes to AI, some other concepts like “Machine Learning” and “Deep Learning” are often mentioned. Broadly speaking, AI refers to any application that can simulate human intelligence or beyond, manifested in human activities and interaction. Machine learning is a subset of AI, referring to a kind of learning in which the machine simulates and actualizes human behavior of learning. Through algorithm, the machine can achieve self-learning from examples and experiences by analyzing a substantial amount of data, and hence make predictive analytics. Machine learning can be found in the fields of NLP and Computer Vision (CV). As a subset of machine learning, deep learning refers to the artificial neural networks, which incorporate a sheer volume of examples and algorithms that figure out patterns in the data. Instances of deep learning include speech recognition and image recognition.

Indeed, many thorny social problems in the contemporary world can be mitigated and even solved by the use of AI innovations. Many governments and people are concerned with the negative social and economic impacts of population ageing, like the increasing demand for healthcare service and the decline in labor participation. AI innovation is precisely one of the best solutions that can be deployed in the healthcare sector. AI machines and tools can serve as a helpful aid for drug distribution and medical diagnostics, so as to relax the heavy demand for public healthcare services.

On the other hand, many industries will be revolutionized by the adoption of AI technology. By utilizing AI technology, the productivity and efficiency of business can be enhanced. The unmanned factory, for example, will change the entire manufacturing industry. The automated production line can adjust, monitor and manage the production details and processes from time to time and in a more systematic way, thereby improving the production efficiency.

However, there are still some challenges for developing AI technology. One of the biggest challenges is the difficulties in gathering and sharing the data. For machine learning, a large amount of data as examples are required, yet it is not easy to collect and interpret such sheer volume of data. Sizeable and costly human resources and calculation resources are needed for the data analysis process. Moreover, the application of AI technology may involve other legal and ethical issues. For instance, if a self-driving car causes a car accident, who should bear the responsibility? Furthermore, the wide usage of AI technology in various industries will transform the labor market, where some kinds of workers will be superseded by the AI machines and robots. That said, there are always opportunities lurking behind challenges. The development of AI has created new jobs opportunities, in particular, for the experts and talents in the fields of mathematics, physics, neuroscience and the like. We can also look forward to the day when AI technology is fully developed. When AI technology, including machine learning and deep learning, is able to collect, process, organize and analyze sheer volume of data systematically and maturely, coupled with a well-established regulatory framework and mechanism, the human kind must be benefited from this technological innovation.

Stepping Towards 5G: The Age of Real-Time Wireless Network

5G network can be said as one of the hottest topics in the technology world. It is reported that the first batch of 5G smartphones is ready to be on sale in the United States, while 25 network operators across the globe will also launch their 5G service. As estimated, about a million of 5G smartphones will be available on the market by the end of 2019. Meanwhile, the 5G technology has been regarded as one of the cruxes of the ongoing China-US trade war. Some critics have pointed out that 5G becomes a kind of political tool, and the result of the “technological competition for 5G” may change the global order. But, what is 5G network? And how does it change our world?

In fact, the “G” of “5G” stands for “generation”. It refers to a new generation of mobile network. For each new generation, we get a step closer to a more reliable and speedy mobile network: 2G allows us to send messages, 3G provides data and internet, 4G offers a faster version of 3G. In this respect, 5G marks a new age of mobile network, which provides a faster wireless network that enables almost real-time interaction compared to 4G. This high speed and real-time wireless network will change the entire world, and the self-driving car will be one of the greatest breakthroughs in the age of 5G. The well-developed 5G network enables the autonomous cars to communicate with each other, and to keep tabs on the real-time road traffic information. Consequently, this kind of “autonomous traffic system” under the 5G network can reduce the risk of car accidents and help solve the problem of traffic jam in many countries. On the other hand, the 5G network also paves a way for the next generation of robotics that can perform more diversified functions. For example, a foreign surgeon can control a medical robot to perform surgery for patients from other regions or countries in real time through 5G network. That will save more lives, blessed by the 5G technology. The proliferation of 5G network will also bring new production and operation modes to many industries. Under the 5G network, different types of robots can communicate with each other, and perform their respective tasks autonomously and concertedly, thereby enhancing the production efficiency.

Apparently, AI technology and 5G network will continue to be the two hottest topics in the world. After overcoming all the challenges, smart city will no longer be a dream but a real world where we will all live in. Let us look forward to this bright technological future!