Signs that the fog of tech hype may finally be lifting

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Whether it is recent events, human nature or something else entirely, the smokescreen of hype around several things seems to be clearing.

Take 5G, for example, where the biggest hype in our industry is currently centered. 5G, we are told, will be the next big thing. It will enable a range of exciting applications – think autonomous cars, smart homes, smart … well, everything, and, of course, virtual reality. It will be ubiquitous (except, based on our experience in the UK, along all major transport corridors and the centers of capital cities).

Except all that hype just got blown away (although it was already being blown, let’s face it) by a new survey by ABI Research. The survey, across nine verticals and 455 US companies shows that 62% of IT ‘implementers’ do not plan to deploy 5G. As the survey’s author says, “The hype of 5G is currently driven by the technology supply chain rather than by demand from the end-markets.”

The report also draws the conclusion that 5G will take hold in the consumer space before the enterprise space. We would beg to differ, but that is another matter.

With several US carriers planning to start rolling out 5G in the next couple of years, this survey will make uncomfortable reading – particularly as the business model for 5G-enabled applications seems to depend primarily on scale.

Other areas where the hype smoke is clearing is AI, now so much a part of our industry’s DNA that we don’t even need to put “AI” in brackets after the words “artificial intelligence”. We all know what it means.

What is far less clear is what it does, or what it can do. It is actually easier to clarify what it can’t do.

World peace? No.

Hunger? Not so much.

React with human emotions? Nah.

Find the answer to a host of complex human problems? ‘Fraid not.

What it can do – and Douglas Adams would be pleased – is help articulate the question.

When someone phones a call center, upset, the conversation with a human is likely to be highly emotional, offensive, defensive, and possibly unconstructive. Using the look up capabilities of AI, the real issue can be identified, without emotion (at least on the part of the entity fielding the phone call). That way, it will be easier to implement the solution accurately and quickly.

There is a host of operations that can be automated with AI – the best mortgage, the best route, possibly even the best medicine. But these are areas where the answers have already been figured out. AI, for the most part, is clever automation of mundane tasks.

One thing AI can also do is bring people together. As Tony Poulos reports, the ITU managed to bring together the heads of industry, academia and global organizations for an event called “The AI for Good Global Summit”.

Whether AI is ultimately for the good of humanity or not, we will let you judge (video highlights here). We remain – sadly, perhaps – convinced that AI isn’t magic. But clever, fast automation can definitely be for good.

What else is still befogged by the hype smoke …? Ah yes, virtual reality.

Actually, don’t get me started…

Seriously, though, there is clearly good to be had from all of these things. But we really need to see through the hype to evaluate it properly (and gain a clearer understanding of who gets to make the money).

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