Stunning tech advances introduce substantial new risk
Technology puts unprecedented power into the hands of morally-challenged companies
It’s been a long time since a truly new technology arrived. And now we have two: the Internet of things, which brings the real-time characteristics of embedded systems to every facet of wide-area networks; and machine intelligence, which goes by the names artificial intelligence, augmented intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, and a bunch more.
The great thing about a truly new technology is that it challenges every limit we think we have, and shows us enormous possibilities that we previously couldn’t consider. The dangerous thing is that a truly new technology also introduces substantial new risks and upsets the checks and balances that protect us from unintended negatives.
So with two new technologies at once, everything is doubled. We’ll be tempted by twice the possibility, and the unknown risks are twice as grave.
Now, put all of that into our current context — where we have morally-challenged technology companies leading the charge…
Amazon just detailed significant leaps in each technology (h/t Patrick Moorhead) at the most foundational level:
Amazon says its newest custom silicon — the basic building block of computing and networks — increases performance by 7X and improves price/performance by 40%. That’s unprecedented power.
The company also detailed a new inference engine — the basic specialized building block of machine intelligence — that doubles throughput and lowers cost-per-inference by 66% over its previous design (which already led the industry in both). That’s unprecedented power.
And to connect the two, the company said it will collaborate with Verizon (h/t Larry Dignan) to revamp its infrastructure in support of 5G, cloud, and edge computing. Amazon Web Services executive Andrew Jassy said the “rebuild and transformation” will be expensive but “very much worth it”. Watch for Amazon to create its own local and in-building cellular networks using small-cell protocols like 5G (unprecedented raw performance) and the CBRS cellular-band radio service (unprecedented price/performance). That’s unprecedented power.
After two decades of incremental improvements in technology, those who learned the lessons from the first age of great leaps — the 1970s and 80s — are no longer here.
More than ever, it’s time for grown ups to be in charge.
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