When Kevin Ho, president of Huawei’s handset division, took to the stage for the opening keynote of the CES Asia consumer tech conference, you might have expected him to talk about the company’s new P9 smartphone. Instead he outlined a future where we might also have to fight off evil robots.
What technology when we see it will we be scared to death of just by thinking about it?” said Kevin Ho.“The rate of change as we know it has accelerated in recent years, meaning that what might be possible in just a few short decades may be even more astounding. And frankly, just as horrifying.”
He then went on to describe a future where this technology could mount a comeback against mankind as we know it, effectively wiping out the population if it falls into the wrong hands. “We need to prepare ourselves for a scenario where AI might launch an attack; we need authentication, better protection and remote defence.” All of which are things that Huawei are now duly working on, according to Ho.
However, the Huawei head wasn’t all doom and gloom. In the right hands, Ho believes many of us will be able to embrace technology more into our personal lives. He described in detail his concept of “spiritual immortality”, where kids would be able to speak to their deceased grandparents through apps like Huawei’s WeChat as just one example.
“Lots of technology advancements are required to get there. We currently track many data points, including how many steps we take, what we weigh, pictures of us and the world around us, and so on,” he explained. “But it’s this basis that enables us to build this virtual world. For it to be its own construct, like something pulled from The Matrix, would require huge leaps forward in many fields.”
Despite Ho’s futurist views, he believes that to reach this brave new world, huge strides need to be made in access speeds around the world. He predicted we would need a mind-boggling 15 zetabytes of data storage and a peak connection around 300x more powerful than what’s available right now. But all of this are areas in which Huawei are investing heavily in: “We are pouring our R&D efforts and dollars into these areas. There are 4.5 billion connections to the internet right now; there will be 100 billion by 2025, and 100 trillion by 2040. Likewise, there are about two Internet of Things devices per person today. There will be 256 by 2025. Technology development cannot be stopped.”
While Ho may feel this future will soon be upon us, he admits that his company’s progress has been slow. “We’ve been talking about it for years, but progress is not unfolding at a rapid enough pace. Huawei has invested $37 billion in R&D over the last 10 years to find some answers,” he said. “Everyone wants a part of the smartphone, but progress has been slow.”
Whether or not you share Ho’s views on how AI and humans will co-exist, the future is exciting. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what technology is all about?
Watch Kevin Ho’s Huawei keynote for yourself here.
For a first look at the Huawei P9 smartphone and how it plans to ‘reinvent smartphone photography,’ pick up Gadget Magazine issue 8 now.