2023 was the year of AI. And, there are many prognostications that 2024 will be the year that GenAI delivers. What is clear is this: the excitement around AI is real and justified…and insufficient. Artificial Intelligence is poised to be THE most impactful productivity improvement tool that man has invented to date. AI’s impact is going to be more profound than the combined impact of the PC, the internet, and cellular communications.
When tracing the trajectory of human progress, certain milestones stand out. Each alters the course of history by dramatically altering the rate of productivity and making it possible to sustain an ever more rapidly growing population around the globe.
Every technological era has its standout innovations, those that cause a stir, a collective gasp. Certain innovations awe society and reset our productivity curve dramatically. The Industrial Revolution mechanized production and the telephone made communication instantaneous. The PC revolutionized data processing, bringing computing power to the masses, and the Internet connected the globe to redefine communication and commerce.
Now, consider the graph below plotting technology innovations through time. Notice that the rate of technological innovation is accelerating, notice also that this acceleration is necessary to keep pace with the population growth.
The lesson I take from these visual narratives? Groundbreaking technologies have always been the catalysts driving sustainable GDP and population growth. They shift the productivity curve of humanity, creating new paradigms. These paradigm shifting technologies are absolutely necessary to sustain the march of humanity. In particular, productivity breakthroughs that impact transportation and communication appear to have a profound positive impact on the global economy.
The excitement I witness today around AI isn’t a novel phenomenon. The current excitement around AI mirrors past reactions to transformative technologies. AI promises to be that next game-changer. Just as past innovations propelled humanity forward, AI is poised to redefine our future.
Artificial Intelligence isn’t just another technology; it’s poised to be a transformative force on a global scale.
Economic Reshaping. AI has the potential to boost global GDP significantly. From automating routine tasks to optimizing logistics, AI can drive efficiency across sectors. Industries from healthcare to finance are set to benefit, leading to potential economic booms in regions that adopt AI early and effectively.
Societal Impacts. Beyond economics, AI will influence societal norms. Jobs will evolve, education systems might need to adapt, and our daily interactions could change. While there are concerns about job displacements, history shows that new technologies often lead to the creation of new job categories.
The New Productivity Paradigm. AI’s ability to process vast amounts of data and learn from it means that tasks that took humans days can be completed in seconds. This isn’t just automation; it’s a complete redefinition of what’s possible, pushing the boundaries of human productivity.
AI is already transforming diverse industries from healthcare to agriculture in fundamentally profound ways. In healthcare, AI is poised to enhance every aspect from diagnostics, to proactive pandemic prediction, to revolutionizing drug discovery. AI’s Green Thumb in Agriculture will impact everything from refining farming practices, to forecasting crop yields, to predicting climate change and enabling better use of our natural resources. AI will impact every sector – from healthcare to education, from agriculture to automotive, from marketing to sales, and more. But, I am most excited about what AI can do for communications.
The largest opportunity, by factors, will be AI in wireless communications. It will eclipse the trio of recent revolutions—Industrial, Compute, Internet —because it builds on top of these previous revolutions and will have a 10x greater impact on society.
Every vertical segment, every consumer and business, and every region around the world is already connected wirelessly. As our world grows more interconnected, managing the vast web of connections becomes a Herculean task. The surge from billions to trillions of connections isn’t just a number; it’s indicative of our ever-growing reliance on digital connectivity through IoT devices, smartphones, and industrial equipment. The demand for immersive and interactive multimedia experiences from remote surgery to mixed reality to peer-to-peer video communications requires new data connectivity paradigms that stretch the capabilities of existing network architectures, e.g., ultra low latency along with extreme data rates.
This means that delivering this connectivity, including equipment / infrastructure, is increasing in complexity and cost. These result in CAPex and OPex growth without a commensurate increase in revenue. The profit per bit over the last decade has been declining and negatively affecting Cellular Service Providers’ (CSP’s) financial performance. These operators and their competitors globally are all seeking ways to meet ballooning throughput demands while maintaining OPex efficiency and fighting for energy efficiency; for example, a European operator is battling a surge in energy costs of over 50% year on year, escalating from $800M to nearly $1.2B this past year.
Cellular Service Providers have the opportunity to fundamentally rethink the architecture of their networks and potential streams of revenue as they contemplate the modernization of their radio access networks (RAN’s) for 5G and beyond. The modernization of the RAN presently underway across several CSP’s is focused on three key areas:
And, there are several tools available to the CSP’s to choose from as they embark on their modernization journey. Among these tools, the embrace of Artificial Intelligence is likely to provide the biggest benefit.
AI can play a very significant role in enabling more efficient, higher performance, and more cost-effective networks. In fact, we believe that the only way to deliver the wireless needs of consumers is to fully embrace AI/ML and to move towards making the cellular RAN self-learning and more autonomous. The cellular network needs to become an AI defined network.
Our networks are full of information that is not being harnessed to understand the dynamism and the state of the networks. AI can help us increase the utility of the information in our networks and correspondingly increase the performance of our networks. Specifically, AI can help impact networks by:
These are not capabilities to be deployed in the distant future; it’s possible to obtain substantial gains now. For example, Aira’s rAPP is an AI-based dynamic radio network energy management technology. It can analyze contextual information from the network and intelligently power down selected radios without appreciably impacting throughput; and, consequently we are able to demonstrate up to 23% in energy savings. Over the next month, and at MWC’24, Aira will be publishing a series of blogs and whitepapers to demonstrate how AI may be used in cellular RAN’s now and gain tremendous improvements.
The journey of AI, from its conceptual beginnings to its transformative role in today’s industries, is nothing short of remarkable. As I’ve explored with you, the anticipation surrounding AI isn’t just a fleeting sensation or mere hype. From reshaping economies to revolutionizing healthcare, AI is at the heart of the next wave of global advancements.
Ready to be a part of this AI-driven future? Discover how we’re harnessing the power of AI to redefine wireless communications. Come and visit with us at MWC’24. We look forward to meeting with you, sharing our vision and what we have already built.