The ongoing evolution of mobile telecommunications heralds a new era in which 5th generation (5G) mobile technology will significantly augment and enhance the world in which we live – more than any generation before.
A digital world, enabled and empowered by 5G networks will drive social and economic change through positive interventions across and between sectors and industries.The level of research, development, investment and implementation is now well advanced towards making this a reality.
The dialogue and strategic marketing of everything associated with a so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution is building and momentum is accelerating. The diversity of innovation will challenge and disrupt while brimming with high social and economic utility – and substantially underpinned by the infrastructure, products, applications and services supplied by the mobile telecommunications industry.
So it’s refreshing and timely to hear insights that extend beyond how the connected fridge and IoT will transform our lives. There is a deeper, more humanistic side to what a 5G empowered world can mean; one which totally acknowledges the positive contribution of the technological / human partnership within a commercial context. To this end 5G will be unquestionably industrial and socially transformative.
This week in Sydney, AMTA and UTS hosted a networking forum focused on this new era. Front and centre was an insightful presentation from Marcus Weldon - the President and Corporate Chief Technology Officer of Nokia Bell Labs. Weldon is responsible for coordinating the technical strategy across the company and driving technological and architectural innovations into the portfolio. He is considered one of the luminaries in the telecommunications industry in terms of the clarity, depth and breadth of his vision, and he has a phenomenal track record in terms of identifying technological disruptions and opportunities, from vectoring in Access, to the evolution to LTE overlay and Small Cells, to the emergence of virtualisation and SDN as profound industry changing forces.
Drawing on his industrial and research experience, Weldon described how our lives will be shaped by the digitisation and connection of everything and everyone, and what this means for business, new markets and a new phase of our technological existence. His book: The Future X Network - A Bell Labs Perspective, discusses the transformation of human existence via digitisation and connection.
Attended by senior members of the telecommunications industry, government and research institutions, Weldon had the audience captivated with his analysis and observations of where industry is taking technology and how it reflects the current stage of human development. This was not a product or service pitch, but an insightful view that placed emphasis on the social and cultural relevance of digital technologies. The positive intervention of science and its application to address human need and desire was obvious and supported - including reference to Maslow’s famous hierarchy of human needs.
For Weldon the nexus between technology and its ability to create time (meaningful time) was eloquently described. As he noted, we (humans) have continuously created tools to augment our physical abilities … and save time. By decreasing distance and increasing knowledge, humans have successfully created time by designing and harnessing technology to execute those tasks and activities that are best serviced through hardware, software and the networks that frame them.
From the wheel, to the jet airliner, to automated manufacturing equipment and satellite communications, Weldon convincingly depicted how VR, AR, M2M and IoT etc, collectively represent the next stage of tool development which help to augment the physical abilities of humans.
Some of his key points are disarmingly obvious, yet grounded through the rigour of research thinking and technological literacy:
- We have continuously created tools to augment our physical abilities … and save time
- We have created tools to increase discovery by decreasing distance to save time
- Need to interface digital & physical realms…to decrease distance and waste, and create time
- Need to augment our mental abilities…to increase knowledge and save time
To some, Weldon may have come across as a historian or philosopher of science and technology, however to those who understand the economic and cultural role of technology, his insights make complete commercial sense. Indeed, Weldon’s ability to articulate the wider benefits of the coming 5G based technology revolution are compelling.
His insights tell us that the increasing automation of things and processes through digital interfaces and data analytics will deliver a degree of connectivity, utility and engagement that will be unprecedented … while impacting the Future of All Things and the Creation of Time.
Photo: Marcus Weldon speaking at the UTS-AMTA Industry forum on 10 April 2017 at UTS, Sydney Australia.
12 April 2017