AI boosting the fourth industrial revolution

Mike Bai, Huawei
Mike Bai, Huawei Technologies

New paths towards growth for manufacturing, service, and other industries ahead

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5 June 2020 | 0

In association with Huawei Technologies

Emerging technologies are driving a new industrial revolution across the entire planet and artificial intelligence (AI) has undoubtedly become the main force, which will release their full potential.

The focus of AI is now shifting from consumer applications to industrial applications. Industrial AI will be the foundation of digital transformation and business innovation, leading to a new stage of growth and advancing both theories and technologies.

 

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Artificial intelligence has attracted wide attention since 2006 and now plays a significant role in everyday life. Deep learning has driven major breakthroughs in technology such as voice or image recognition and natural language processing. Today, various industries are taking keen interest in AI to accelerate the new industrial revolution.

The industrial artificial intelligence is going to be the foundation of a previously unseen digital transformation and business innovation. By changing the way work gets done, AI helps companies make the best use of practical experience, even displacing traditional labour and becoming the productive factor itself. This transformation will unleash massive technological productivity and economic growth. It will offer entirely new paths towards growth for manufacturing, service, and other industries, reshape the world economy and bring new opportunities for our societal development.

Mike Bai, Huawei Technologies
AI has become a legitimate part of any organisation’s automation strategy and a core driver for the next industrial revolution

Lately, AI has become a legitimate part of any organisation’s automation strategy and a core driver for the next industrial revolution. However, the development of artificial intelligence is threatened by Tech Nationalism and de-globalisation, because most companies will not able to reach their AI goals by working alone. Defensive political strategies will not only hurt the expansion of AI but will also have other negative impacts on numerous economies of the world and on progress in many industries. The European Union is currently giving the best example in how vulnerable international cooperation is right now: For decades, the members of the EU have formed an unmatched internal market, profiting from transboundary partnership and shared innovations. If the tendencies in national solo efforts prevail, this will only mean a step backwards for everyone.

Track AI – an extraordinary international effort

We are already working towards transboundary knowledge sharing, fostering AI based projects which will help tackle numerous challenges the world is facing today, for example in the health sector.

The Track AI project is an international effort trying to make a real difference: There are around 19 million visually disabled children in the world. 70% of these children could have normal vision if their problem had been detected early enough. Visual screening programs are the best tool to decrease the rate of undiagnosed visual disorders. Non-trained people from the community must be empowered to identify children who may be at risk of developing visual problems and refer them to a specialist who can diagnose and treat them.

An easy-to-use, portable and affordable device to identify these children with visual disorders needs to be put in place as soon as possible. This is the main goal of the TrackAI project.

Developing a system based on AI requires gathering data from thousands of children. During this unique collaboration between Huawei and the Spain-based DIVE start-up, 18 ophthalmologists from five different countries across three continents will collect data from children either with normal visual development or with a wide range of visual disorders. Huawei is partnering with global research hubs in the Spain, Mexico, Russia, Vietnam and China, to prove once more that transboundary knowledge sharing regarding AI technology can have the most profound impact.

Breaking down barriers

The challenges AI still has to face are many-layered: For its full establishment in the industry and to maximise its performance, AI will have to combine industry knowledge and practices, helping to address challenges in data collection, model training and model management. The biggest challenges when deploying industrial AI are insufficient understanding of industry indicators and an insufficient experience in feature engineering to guide model optimization.

At the same time, these industries are also facing political risks, such as Tech Nationalism. This term describes government policies or actions that directly or indirectly favor information and communications technology products and services sold by companies headquartered domestically. Shaped by nationalist and isolationist tendencies that undermine trust in the multilateral system, Tech Nationalism can not only threaten the further development of artificial intelligence but can also cause downstream effects in the supply chain and adjacent industries, with negative implications for national security, cybersecurity, trade and industrial competitiveness, while weakening global processes, such as international standards setting.

Connecting to exploit the full potential

Tech Nationalism forces companies to work by themselves while progress can only be achieved through cooperation in a fully connected world. To enable synergies for value innovation, companies must be able to build connections with global partners and customers from various industries. A global network of partners offers promising opportunities for collaboration and interaction as well as value innovation across different industries. To realize the full potential in digital transformation around the world, which could boost economic growth and wealth, the digital ecosystem needs to be fully functional. That will not be possible, when disconnecting and sealing off become the new normal. Only a fully connected world can manage a fourth industrial revolution.

Mike Bai is president of strategy marketing, Western Europe, for Huawei Technologies

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