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Developing information and communications technology to provide more intelligence and leverage more wisdom for a dramatically changing World -Part 1-

Victor Greu

Romanian Distribution Committee Magazine, 2022, vol. 13, issue 1, 14-31

Abstract: The paper analyses the context of the dramatic trends of the global processes in the Earth ecosystem, affecting a diversity of domains (which have the potential to be extended almost randomly, because of the accumulated negative premises of the World context), considering also the benefic ways Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is already influencing the humankind and our planet, with the expectation that this influence will be continued under the new conditions. It is very important to analyse such premises of the complex World context, in order to identify the optimal or at least the sustainable ways ICT could be further developed in order to support the approaching and facing of the most probable and dramatical changes/processes/events which would have the potential to strongly affect the life quality on Earth and even the whole planetary ecosystem. Although sometimes it is considered that the accumulated negative premises are not critical, yet, for example in the climate changes case (when the opinion is already more than dubitable), as prominent challenge for the Earth and humankind, another significant difference versus the past is the Earth resources fading critical stage (including food), which already began to generate cascades of dramatical consequences in more and more domains, from energy to social and geopolitical crises. As a consequence of such negative context premises for the Earth ecosystem evolution, it is necessary to analyse all the possibilities of humankind to mitigate these trends/challenges, including first the well-known potential of ICT to influence the World and support IS/KBS. The expected challenges, dilemmas and dramatical changes/crises, we will have to face more and more, must be approached by rational and complicate analyses, in spite of the extreme uncertainty levels these problems could have, leveraging our success chances if using for such purposes all the acquired and potential power of ICT advances, including AI along with HI and wisdom. Among the priorities of the rational mentioned analyses, we consider, with priority, the necessity of the research for new alternative energy and materials (including food) solutions, along with recycling and saving the actual but fading Earth resources. This crucial challenge will determine the ways the World progress, based on production and consummation, could be continued in a sustainable manner, a longer or a shorter period of time, i.e., it will define the balance between apogee and survival, on Earth. Another significant issue, making the difference over the past, is given by the extreme urgency and last mile stage World is in, before being too late! Planning a long road by concrete steps, we think that the systemic and structural approaches should be based on some value/relevant principles, criteria and examples, as our paper shortly presents. As a principle consequence of considering ICT influence at planetary scale, i.e., a real leverage factor for all human activity domains, being also a huge consumer of energy and materials, is to carefully analyse both positive and eventual negative issues of ICT exponential evolution, but pointing just the necessity to adapt the ICT future pace and systemic structure to the dramatical context premises, understanding that although some development areas/directions should be slowed down, other could be faster. This way, the analysis of ICT advances issues, where artificial intelligence (AI), among others, is prominent, remains the starting point, as the power of all ICT products, services or applications, considering, still, the refined knowledge which could reconfigure the weights of different areas of applications, must be the basic potential of computing and networking power to be provided where World priority goals will arise. Following such goals, but not being limited to them, our analysis is based on relevant cases/examples, as a support for their eventual integration in useful studies or advices for incumbents, or reference for everyone - an education component, necessary to face the emerging dramatical/dynamic World. We consider that the education should be the main mass way to refine the knowledge for the appropriate actions everyone has to understand, in the dynamic mentioned World and ICT context, but it is also clear that we could not expect the fast appearance of necessary refined knowledge, nor the consequent actions, just knowing the humankind history. Identifying the “refined knowledge” and the “necessity” will rise more and more complex, complicate and difficult problems, but here comes the expected power of ICT and AI, which has the potential to bring the data from all areas, to extract the relevant information and then to imply humans in all associated processes of creation/innovation, education, debating and eventually decision, providing the appropriate approach and speed for each category, case and stage. Analysing sophisticated examples of actual AI applications, we observe that the reality is still more challenging, as for providing only the necessary data, ICT impact on IS/KBS is huge and must be optimized because of the hidden costs. Under the hidden costs, we have to include more than energy and material resources, but also innovation and management necessary to integrate relevant data at Earth scale based on refined knowledge models, i.e., a lot of studies, models, methods and AI along with human intelligence (HI). The relevance of these examples is much beyond the application domain and context, as we propose to extract from it the huge potential of ICT/AI/HI to extrapolate such kind of applications to a higher level of IS/KBS, in order to optimize other, more complex processes, at Earth scale, based on their mentioned power and advances, but using the appropriate refined knowledge each time. We have to use all the chances and human resources to continue a sustainable development of our ecosystem, including the power of ICT/AI necessary advances we just mentioned above. When speaking about the sustainable development of our ecosystem, each time we have to see first the premises of the actual/normal development which are less sustainable or to carefully analyse the challenges which lead to such difficult evolutions. On the other hand, it is necessary to analyse such premises/challenges and eventually address the appropriate, even preliminary, solutions to mitigate them. One of the analysed examples (the World actual chip shortage crisis) just showed the emergence and realism of such approach, along with useful conclusions, as always we have to find first the causes/premises which led to a crisis/problem, in order to have chances to optimally solve it. Considering the huge industry around ICT and beyond, it is naturally to keep (and spread) the optimism, especially for this global chip shortage, but we consider that it is mandatory to maintain a rigorous vigilance about such systemic and overwhelming risk/crises (like chip shortage), especially before having confidence that we have got over them and most of all, that we have learned all the lessons to prevent/manage them for future. The paper aim is also to propose some urgently needed orientations, observing that the Earth civilization history could be seen as long, considering human life and the incredible progress we made, although at Universe scale it is only a short scenario that our recent history appears to make it shorter. ICT exponential speed of development, leading to a similar IS/KBS pace evolution, sometimes could “add” to the mentioned premises toward a shorter scenario, but now, more than before, it is important to learn from history, including ICT recent evolution, in order to make the scenario longer, in a sustainable manner. For the analysed dramatical Earth ecosystem context, full of uncertainty, our opinion/proposal, a general but realistic and practical approach, is that, when analysing ICT development actual resources and challenges, we should follow step by step a multi-fold goal for our future World, which should include: Providing support for the urgent/emergent research/production/actions to mitigate the World crises, like alternative energy resources, new and recycled materials etc.; Searching solutions to approximately continue Moore Law and similar resources of ICT; Identifying challenges that determine reconfiguration of performance and areas of priorities for ICT advances; Export ideas, models, algorithms and conclusions from ICT experience of development, in dramatical context premises, to other human activity domains; Search principles and models of optimizating the AI-HI combination in order to leverage knowledge refining for a sustainable World progress. Even step by step and long time, such generous and consistent results will not be easy to achieve, but it is essential to agree that they could have a huge importance in terms of opportunity and impact, for the present and future of our Earth ecosystem. The paper shortly analyses some relevant examples of ICT actual resources and challenges, which would be lessons to consider, for future sustainable development, even beyond the sphere of ICT, due to the ICT impact over the entire IS/KBS, leading this way to the benefic multi-disciplinary results/innovations. Beyond the sphere of ICT could mean not only all the linked industries, as ICT impact covers almost all domains of human activity. More than these, the actual and emerging dramatical context, and especially the material crises, will expect research and solutions in many industries, like chemistry, food and of course energy, including everywhere ICT will certainly come with support and added value. Among the examples, the spectacular advance of microscopy could push toward many research areas and even industries (among other, biotechnology, medicine, chemistry and food), just in the above-mentioned struggle to find new material resources or useful features, starting from innovations at the nanoscale domain and meeting the research goals, with a higher speed and accuracy. The example of the crucial field of processors development (a superconducting CPU from Japan) is also very relevant when facing the energy crisis, was above analysed. Here we observed an accumulation of many factors, including both ICT new resources and challenges issues, as 2 (or soon 8) percent of the world’s electricity is consumed by World data centers, which is not only huge, but it is really a signal of alarm (especially considering the emergent energy crises) about the consequences of ICT exponential development at planetary scale, we also repeatedly presented, revealing in the same time the necessity of a radical change, i.e., a new paradigm of advancing ICT/CPU. An important conclusion is that the future ICT expected solutions, along with other actions generally intended for the World urgent crises, should not be necessary only in the direction of intensively advance in the areas already started for improvements of the performances in the associated domains, but (and sometimes, on the contrary) in the new directions, i.e., changing the paradigm or the way of thinking, or simply changing the humankind/society behaviours that are not sustainable. These ideas are also confirmed, in the huge industry of CPU innovations, by another example of new model of CPU (from Switzerland), above presented, which seems to provide a substantial gain in the desired energy efficiency, but it comes also with an impressing increase of speed. Our opinion is that, in this area of ICT/CPU improvements, any relevant research/result is more than expected/benefic, but it is also true that each case must be analysed in the larger context of associated applications. In this case, we believe that the relevance/importance of results is given by the fact that generally we do not need state-of-the-art performance in all applications and consequently we could have a great sustainable progress if there is a diversity of applications, counting huge cost savings at planetary scale. More than these, we think that, from this example, the idea of better matching performances with applications levels and cost is a very relevant criteria for ICT (and other industries too) sustainable development, in order to face the energy and materials crises to come. On this line, it is relevant to consider the huge area of IoT applications, where the diversity and the number of applications at Earth scale will be so high, as the mentioned matching is the main criteria of development and optimization and could provide just the expected savings. The paper final conclusion is that, after referring only to the first step of the multi-goal approach we have proposed (support for the urgent/emergent research/production/actions to mitigate the World crises), a further analysis is needed and naturally to be continued, without considering that it would be exhaustive, but keep thinking that the huge context of ICT sustainable development is crucial for mitigating the consequences of emergent World dramatical changes/crises.

Keywords: changing/dynamic normality; superconducting CPU; chip shortage; deep learning microscopy; Earth resources fading; artificial intelligence; information and communications technology sustainable development; refining knowledge; information society; knowledge-based society science (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: L63 L86 M15 O31 O33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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