Blog: Reinventing Curriculum

AI + 5G = New Internet in 2020

The Internet changed everything.

"It’s difficult to imagine the power that you’re going to have …"

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.

And, get ready for the next Internet! Marry Artificial Intelligence (AI) to 5G, the next generation of telecommunications technology, and out comes super smart networks that are super fast and super ubiquitous, i.e., the New Internet.

Yes, indeed, "It’s difficult to imagine the power that you’re going to have ..."

But… let’s give it a shot!

The Basics: AI & 5G Technologies

Let’s start with some basic facts about Artificial Intelligence (AI):

  • We are living, according to the New York Times. in the Age of AI." Surprise!
  • AI is about finding correlations, patterns in mounds of data. For example, there is evidence that heavy users of marijuana can exhibit schizophrenia. (Careful: AI does not identify causation: AI is not saying smoking reefers causes schizophrenia.)
  • Researchers understood how to use AI 50 years ago. But until very recently, the computers have been too slow to run the AI algorithms on the necessary amounts of data. AI is hot today because AI is finally computable.

And, some basic facts about 5G:

  • Right now, in the U.S., most smartphones are connected to the Internet via a 4G cellular network provided by various companies (e.g., AT&T, Verizon). 5G, being slowly rolled out nationwide by those same cellular companies, can be up to 1000 times faster than 4G.
    • "How long will it take to download a two-hour-long 3D movie? 6 minutes on 4G; 3.6 seconds on 5G."
  • And, 4G is about 100 times faster than 3G. Now, remember the iPhone in 2009. It was only on a 3G cellular network — and folks were thrilled to have the Internet literally in the palm of their hands.
  • Wi-Fi is a wireless connection to the Internet that provides about the same speed as a 5G cellular connection. But, Wi-Fi is usually available only in a room, and the Wi-Fi in that room is driven by an access point that is in turn, powered by a wired Ethernet connection. Wi-Fi is not like 4G; there are cell towers everywhere outside providing 4G coverage – and that coverage can usually be accessed even inside a room.
  • Latency is the term for how long it takes for the signal to go to the source and come back. Ask Alexa a question. With 4G the latency can be 10 milliseconds; with 5G the question goes up and the answer can come back in 1 millisecond.

With 5G – What Will Happen To Smartphones?

With respect to smartphones, let’s speculate about what a full-scale deployment of 5G will enable for people all over the globe.

Today, a 10-11 inch screen, entry-level Chromebook can be purchased for about $60, while a low-end laptop costs about $300. Why? In contrast to the laptops that have computation engines onboard, the Chromebook has very little computing power onboard. Rather, it counts on a fast network to send the data to the cloud, where the actual computation engines are humming away.

4G can support such transmissions, but Wi-Fi is preferred.  As a 5G network is comparable in speed to a Wi-Fi network, a 5G network will support a Chromebook just fine.

So, except for the 5G networking chip, a 5G-supported, computational device will need virtually no computational horsepower onboard; the 5G network will pump the data to the cloud and back again — fast!  Put that networking chip into a plastic case, pop on a 5.5-inch screen and call it a smartphone. Cost? About $8. (Ok, Ok… you want a camera — kick in another $4.) Pop on an 11-screen and call it a tablet. Cost? About $20. (You want a keyboard — kick in another $6.)

  • Today, 2.5 to 3 billion people have smartphones; just imagine how many people will own a smartphone when it costs $8 (or $12 with a camera).
  • Today, approximately 73% of Americans have a laptop computer; just imagine how many people will own a tablet/laptop when it costs $20/$26.

Heck, at these prices, you can see dog owners buying an $8 smartphone for their pet, and training their lonely dog to bark in a certain way to initiate a call to its owner at work. ("Yes, I love you too, Fido.")

Individuals will possess multiple 5G devices (5.5-inch-screen phone, 11-inch-screen laptop, 18-inch-screen personal movie machine, etc.) and dozens of 5G-enabled gadgets (e.g., water faucet, toilet handle, toothbrush) and appliances (e.g., toaster, freezer, washer, dryer).  The Internet of Things (IOT) will be deployed ubiquitously. There will be billions and billions of 5G-enabled sensors installed in the environment, (e.g., light & infra-red cameras, smell sensors, moisture sensors) as well as actuators that do stuff commanded by… drum-roll, please: AI.

What Can’t AI Do?

Like the New York Times said, we are in the Age of AI!

  • At the World Economic Forum, in Davos Switzerland (1/24/19), AI was front-of-mind:
    • George Soros, a bold financier and mega-philanthropist, not an AI researcher, worried aloud that authoritarian governments will use AI to control their people.
    • In private, back-room conversations, business people were talking excitedly about mass automation in the next few years — but publicly they expressed concern for "human-centered AI."
  • Besides developing an "app" that beat the human world Go champion, Google’s Deep Mind division has AI technology that can "spot eye disease just as well as your doctor."
  • AI researchers are commanding million dollar salaries — just like football and basketball coaches.
  • Yes, today’s computers are fast, but "it’s difficult to imagine" the patterns that AI will uncover when the AI algorithms are run on tomorrow’s quantum computers.

What are the limits of AI?

AI + 5G = New Internet

So put AI together with 5G and…

  • With 5G instantly tracking the whereabouts of everyone, AI can predict when and where the next demonstration by <name your favorite political group> will occur.
  • With 5G instantly tracking the whereabouts of everyone, AI can predict who will have a heart attack, when, and where.

"The Web as I envisaged it, we have not seen it yet. The future is still so much bigger than the past." Maybe the New Internet is what Berners-Lee envisioned?  Regardless, that New Internet is coming to the palm of your hand — very shortly!