Imagine a universal network that can make decisions for you based on your location and activity, seamlessly routing you to the best possible network to handle the task you are carrying out without interrupting your experience. We’re talking about always-connected networks that talk to each other. We will no longer have to think about whether we are using WiFi, a mobile network, Bluetooth, or one of the many IoT network technologies. It will just work. Ultimately, we won’t need a mobile phone, a wearable or any other device to access this connectivity universe; our innumerable applications will become a virtual, interconnected ecosystem as we interact with them or even put them on our bodies.
There is one major advancement that makes this all possible: artificial intelligence. AI will be the facilitator of real-time conversations between networks, ensuring that all interactions receive the best-possible quality of service out of the connections available to them. Moreover, these networks will exist across all industries and borders.
While AI-enabled machine learning will create a new approach to design, the human element will not go away. AI can show us new ways of designing faster, more cost-effective networks that are faster, but the actual build of the network must still be done by humans. Combining human intellect and creativity with the massive computing power of AI will create a situation in which new design and management techniques may be created that humans couldn’t build on their own, but self-improving intelligent algorithms will harness over time. So, not only will the number of people and companies that are able to build and innovate with networks increase, the networks which are designed and developed will be capable of far more than their predecessors.
Beyond simply designing the network, AI will help manage, maintain and protect it. Right now networks are monitored by algorithms that look for anomalous build-ups of traffic and activity which may be the result of malicious activities such as Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks and attempted hacks. As the AI powering these algorithms becomes more intelligent, it will find faster and more foolproof methods of anticipating threats and cleaning the network. AI will be able to better predict traffic as it collects and analyzes data in real-time, so that network managers are better prepared for big events such as the Olympics, Black Friday and Valentine’s Day, which often put the Internet under pressure.
Next, thanks to software-defined networking technologies, the ability to automatically and dynamically route traffic between the internet and the private network will ensure that employees are able to enjoy super-fast access to applications and data to collaborate securely and seamlessly, wherever in the world they are. With this combination of AI-designed underlying network topologies and AI-driven software-defined networking, we will eventually see more profound evolutions of what networks are capable of, across all industries.
In retail, for example, an AI-enhanced network can provide, faster, more accurate product discovery for customers, leading to increased order values and conversion rates for their company’s shopping portals. In the healthcare industry, a network built on artificial intelligence can analyze thousands of documents in minutes to help doctors make more informed decisions about patient care. Meanwhile, in the call center business, networks that leverage AI can more accurately and quickly route and service customer inquiries.
These are just a few of the industries that AI will touch. By pouring all our existing expertise, data, and research into an AI algorithm, this knowledge can be shared and used more creatively as well as augmented and developed further, making the design process accessible to the many rather than restricted to the few.
Of course, this transformation will require a lot of work us humans first. We need to see continued investment by all players in global networking to ensure that the infrastructure and systems people and businesses rely on will be able to keep up with their growing digital demands
The advent of AI provides a huge opportunity to revolutionize the world’s networks. This is particularly important when one considers that we are at the tipping point where the way we use networks is about to change forever, thanks to things such as IoT-enabled autonomous vehicles and always-connected smart city systems. AI is causing, and will continue to cause, a total rethink of whether the current business models are conducive to providing the best possible user experience and the most cost-effective way possible.
David Eden has over 20 years’ experience in engineering, sales, product and business development roles working for global companies such as Tandberg, Xilinx and Newbridge Networks to deliver high-end technology, video and unified communications solutions. In his current role at Tata Communications, David works with internal teams and external partners to develop new routes to faster product innovation