Shared Prosperity through Trust & Cooperation in Technology

ByRyan Ding

December 17, 2020

Ryan Ding

Trust in Tech Theme Video

In 2020, ICT is becoming a critical digital infrastructure that supports people’s wellbeing and economic development.

Throughout history, technological advances have pushed the boundaries of human knowledge and enriched our lives. However, every time when faced with a new invention and innovation, we have encountered a certain level of panic and uncertainty. This lasts until we begin to enjoy the benefits. Why should we trust in the power of technology? Because we believe that technology is a tool for expanding our capabilities to improve our lives. When we embed our vision for a better life into technology, its advances are for good, and they are the key driving force that will accelerate social development.

Innovative technologies have helped us address challenges we have never encountered before, like those we are facing in 2020. The ICT industry has played a key role in this process. It is becoming critical digital infrastructure that supports people’s wellbeing and economic development.

COVID-19 has created many new requirements and application scenarios. Many economic and social activities are moving online.

In Cambodia, remote consultation systems allow medical experts from different regions to fight the pandemic together. These systems have solved medical resource shortages in hard hit areas. In the Philippines and Panama, AI-assisted systems help hospitals quickly screen and analyze medical cases.

During the pandemic, schools have had to close. In Kuwait, thanks to 5G CPEs, children are able to continue receiving high-quality education remotely at home.

The Post-pandemic Era: Accelerating the Resumption of Work and Economic Recovery

In the aftermath of the pandemic, society must return to normal, recover economically, and find new growth opportunities as soon as possible. Traditional industries can use 5G to achieve digital transformation, injecting new vitality into their businesses. 5G will improve people’s wellbeing, boost productivity, and help explore new business scenarios to create new value. In the next 10 years, 5G is set to increase global GDP by US$1.4 trillion. Some companies have already started exploring the potential of 5G.

In the mining industry, working conditions used to be extremely harsh and productivity was quite low. One coal mine in Shanxi province, in China, has deployed a 5G network 534 meters underground to remotely control and inspect mining machines. This makes operations safer, reduces the number of underground workers by half, and boosts productivity.

In the port industry, operators had to control gantry cranes from 40 meters in the air all day long. Huawei has worked with the Port of Ningbo in China and used 5G to control these gantry cranes remotely. This has made the work environment much better and increased productivity by 4-fold.

Read more: Working with 5G: Safer, Smarter & People-First

In Singapore, HUAWEI CLOUD provided a health check-in system for local SMEs like 7-Network to help them restart their operations.

Trust and collaboration are the foundation for unlocking the business and social value of technology

We can see that when we bring humanity into technology and use it to envision a better future, new technology can bring us true value to rely on. As we near the end of 2020, I want to stress that trust and collaboration are the foundation for maximizing and sharing the value of 5G.

New technologies are always met with mistrust and panic

While 5G has been commercially deployed at a faster rate over the past year, we have heard some voices and rumors around 5G and its innovations. For example, some say the metal strips in medical masks are 5G antennas. They say wearers could be tracked or even get cancer. Others say the radio waves sent by 5G base stations can damage the immune system. As a result, hundreds of base stations have been damaged. There are even rumors that 5G will breach personal privacy. In some regions, people have protested against 5G.

Read more: 5G & Health: COVID-19 Changes Nothing

Such rumors and panic are not surprising. New technology has always been met with mistrust and fear in its early years.

Machines were first used in factories during the first industrial revolution in the early 19th century. They were met with panic and opposition from workers. In 1811, a man named Ludd began smashing machines in Nottingham. That started the Luddite movement against mechanization. Handloom workers then destroyed many factories and machines. Machines actually created more job opportunities, so the movement quickly ended in 1816.

A factory owner defending his workshop against Luddites intent on destroying his mechanized looms (between 1811-1816) Source: Shutterstock

Again, in the 1850s, many advanced technologies were introduced to China from the West. Many people in China mistrusted them and spread rumors. They said cameras would steal your soul, and electricity poles and railways would disrupt Feng Shui and disturb natural ley lines. As a result, people pulled down telegraph poles and destroyed railway tracks.

Such concerns are common when innovations first emerge, as humans naturally have concerns over new things. However, what makes matters worse at this critical moment when 5G is experiencing explosive growth is the increasing mistrust between regions.

Given the current complexity of geopolitics, countries are becoming more isolated and conservative due to the pandemic and economic downturns. Meanwhile, we see politics stand in the way of technological advances, creating more mistrust in global collaboration and innovation.

This worries me, because it is more difficult to rely on global resources for innovation and collaboration is being obstructed across the value chain. This will prevent us from realizing the value of technology and slow economic recovery.

Trust and Partnerships: ICT Industry, Verticals & Business Environment

In 2020, 5G technology has matured and profoundly changed all industries. We must face the challenges in trust and collaboration and proactively work to address them. The entire industry must work closely together to unleash the value of 5G in vertical industries as quickly as possible.

To address mistrust, we need an ecosystem built on mutual trust and collaboration. This ecosystem will require efforts in three areas: The ICT industry, cross-industry collaboration, and the business environment.

First, we call for the ICT industry to continue adopting unified technical and security standards. The 5G standard is the first unified communications standard in the mobile industry. This will benefit the industry, governments, and consumers. We also call for unified 5G security standards. 3GPP and GSMA have jointly launched the Network Equipment Security Assurance Scheme, or NESAS. It provides stronger protections for personal privacy and cyber security.

Watch: NESAS Audit: The Gold Standard of 5G Cybersecurity

Second is cross-industry collaboration. Vertical industries must embrace the new opportunities brought by 5G. 5G is providing vertical industries with new capabilities, and 5G standards are now actively addressing industry needs. For example, Release 16 and Release 17 have added improved standards for broadcasting services. Release 18 will define the architecture for 5G smart grids and explore how 5G will support services like remote control and protection. Research on 5G standards for healthcare is also underway. This will help standardize industry development and promote more innovative medical applications.

Third, we need to create a favorable business environment. The current complex geopolitical environment is having a negative impact on technology. We believe that politics should stay away from technical issues. We need to remain fair and open to drive technological cooperation. Industry cooperation is not a zero-sum game. If an isolated approach is adopted now, while new technology is unlocking social and business value at a faster rate, the victim will not be one company. Many industries will suffer, and economic recovery will slow.

Open Collaboration and Mutual trust for Shared Prosperity

The tech industry must remain open to drive explosive growth. In addition, it is essential to build mutual trust, as this will lay the foundation for steady global progress. The golden age of 5G has arrived, so we must strive to remain open, enhance trust, and collaborate for shared success. Only by working together can we drive economic recovery and share in the benefit brought by technology.

Adapted from Ryan Ding’s speech at the 2020 Trust in Tech event. Click the link to read more about the themes and highlights of this year’s Trust in Tech event.

Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.

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Ryan Ding

President, Enterprise Business Group, Huawei Technologies

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