AI will double size of digital economy to $23 trillion – Huawei

Huawei has released its Global Connectivity Index 2018 with the team claiming artificial intelligence will provide the necessarily catalyst to almost double the value of the digital economy to $23 trillion by 2025, but only if IoT is embraced.

Almost every technology company on the planet is attempting to leech onto the remarkable traction AI is continuing to get, though the realities of the technologies and the business models it enables are by no means guaranteed. Huawei has pointed towards a worldwide shortage of skills to capitalise on the potential, though new data regulations, such as GDPR and e-Privacy, might have a negative impact on developments as restraints would be placed on how information can be collected and used.

“We are now witnessing a paradigm shift initiated by AI,” said Kevin Zhang, President of Huawei Corporate Marketing. “According to the GCI study, advanced economies that saw growth from ICT development plateau are using Intelligent Connectivity to open new opportunities, while some developing economies are also finding ways to tap the new technology to speed up their own strategic growth plans.”

While this all sounds very encouraging, according to the data there is still a substantial amount of work which needs to be done. Intelligence in the digital economy can be realised following the delivery and adoption of IoT. ‘Digital labels’ will be assigned to all people, things, and devices, gaining the ability to sense through the power of data. This insight and intelligence will drive the adoption of new business models and the creation of new services, though Huawei only marked the UK 3/10 when it comes to investment in IoT, which is above the global average but not necessarily the most flattering of judgements.

This might sound very doom and gloom, it would appear Huawei does not hold many countries in high esteem when it comes to the investment and progress shown in IoT. The US only scored 4/10, Germany received 3/10 and Sweden, recognised as one of the more advanced digital economies to date, was marked 4/10.

Although the adoption of connected devices is on the low-side as it stands, Huawei clearly believes there will be a turning point in the near future. By 2025, the team believes each person will own five smart devices on average and 20% of people will own 10 or more. At the same time, there will be more than 20 billion smart home devices which will become a natural extension of the sensing of individuals and homes. Looking at the more general connectivity trends, the forecast for the total number of connected devices is 100 billion, with 77% of the world’s population being able to access the internet, with 70% having access to gigabit mobile networks. During the same period access to broadband will reach 75% of homes, of which 30% will have access to gigabit broadband.

All of these numbers are necessary for the development of the intelligent, data-driven economy, though you have to wonder how realistic they are. By 2025, gigabit speeds on mobile is certainly feasible, though we wonder how widespread this milestone will actually be. The power of AI and data-driven business models is un-questionable, though you have to wonder how much of an impact the likes of GDPR and the up-coming e-Privacy regulation will have. Optimists are saying nothing, doom-dayers are looking for new jobs already, but it is almost impossible to say right now.

The power of AI-driven solutions should not be questioned, it could be the difference between an organization being the next Google or Yahoo, but such forecasts should be taken with a pinch of salt. There are a lot of moving parts, all of which are powered by investment and confidence, and all of which have a possibility of going wrong. For such forecasts to become true, the telcos, which will act as the foundation of the digital economy, have to demonstrate a more bullish attitude towards the roll-out of future-proofed networks. Digital intelligence is almost entirely reliant on connectivity, which is staggering forward.

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