FCC Sees A.I., Machine Learning as Impacting More Than Communications


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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai made it clear the agency is not regulating artificial intelligence and machine learning (for now) at the Commission’s first forum on the topics Friday. “Early intervention can forestall or even close certain paths to innovation,” he said.

Pai cited an Accenture report that predicts the technologies can double economic growth rates by 2035, and boost labor productivity by 40 percent. “This will have major ramifications for our entire economy, but it could revolutionize the communications space.”

The Chairman said he and other Commissioners are eager to learn more about the new technologies and how they will make networks smarter, enable precision agriculture, improve accessibility, protect data privacy, and diagnose diseases earlier. His colleague, Commissioner Brendan Carr, said, “If we can get out of the way and help the private sector deploy 5G networks, we’ll see tremendous innovations you’ll enable through AI and machine learning.”  

“From a network perspective, we have a tremendous amount of computing power in the smartphone. We’ve got server farms and data centers at the core of the network that has a lot of computing power,” he added. “Now, we’re pushing a lot of that computing power off the phone and [away] from centralized servers to a decentralized edge network approach. The network is getting smarter and will carry more of the necessary computing power for AI-machine learning innovations taking place today.” At the FCC, “we are aware of these big trends and making sure the infrastructure can get built out to make all of this a reality,” said Carr.

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, said the discussions center on the combination of Artificial Intelligence and next generation wireless and broadband capability that she believes, “is going to remake our world.” Using transportation as an example, Rosenworcel said concerning autonomous vehicles, “we’re talking about cars with thousands of sensors on them and all of those sensors feeding data to algorithms so we can make smart choices about where that vehicle goes and what it does. And all of that data comes in over connections that absolutely require gigabit speed and sub millimeter latency.” Comments? Email us.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

December 3, 2018