NEC provides a peek into AI-driven future in digital world

Takashi Niino, President, NEC Corporation, speaking at the C&C User Forum & iExpo 2017, in Tokyo.

NEC Corporation, the diversified technology major today showcased the future of a technology-driven world and unfolding opportunities in resolving the challenges of urbanisation, handling the complex task of security and problems faced in society.

Takashi Niino, President, NEC Corporation, highlighted how artificial intelligence and use of big data could play a role in addressing a growing number of problems faced by threats in the cyber world, security at public places and use of technology-based solutions for improving healthcare delivery. NEC describes the entire concept of ‘Co-creating the Digital Transformation’ as ‘Orchestrating a brighter world.’

Speaking at the C&C User Forum & iExpo 2017, being hosted at the Tokyo International Forum, Niino said not only has NEC brought about a major transformation in the way it functions and handles business, it has brought about a number of innovations which could help transform the way face recognition and biometrics play a role in various applications. These could be in the areas of national identity cards, airport security and authentication, but also handle the challenges of monitoring security issues in urban areas and busy places such as railway and metro stations and sports stadiums.

The $25-billion-plus turnover NEC Corporation, which encompasses 217 group companies and employs over 98,000 people, is demonstrating a number of technology solutions that its group companies could offer in the areas of cyber security, crowd management, digital authentication, sales and marketing and next generation retail stores, which could use facial recognition technology for purchase and payment.

Highlighting the need for large corporations to shift routine and mundane jobs to third parties and use in-house resources for more productive areas, he said, “Such a shift will motivate employees to focus on operations that offer higher value.”

Talking about artificial intelligence and its diverse applications, he predicted that in future AI and robots could make some jobs redundant. Such workers could potentially take up high-value jobs.

Looking at the future, he said by 2030, the number of people living in urban areas will go up significantly, adding to challenges of managing large crowds and ensuring security. Therefore, NEC has innovated in a number of areas, including real-time monitoring and crime prediction systems, which provide holistic security solutions.

Presenting a different scenario for Japan, where the ageing population is growing, he said it would throw up different types of problems, including the need for elderly support, where people could live up to 100 years and beyond.

While artificial intelligence is likely to get all pervasive, its applications could open up new solutions. One such solution would be a smart store where people walk in, they are recognised by their faces, make purchases and walk out of the store making a payment through facial recognition. The first such store would be ready by 2018 in Tokyo.

But he cautioned about how AI could potentially make a number of jobs redundant by 2050. Such a problem may result in different social issues, where there is problem of job creation. But when it comes to Japan, this could help in addressing the problem of ageing.

Talking about the coming wave of 5G, Niino said “It won’t be long before 5G services are offered by operators in various parts of the world. NEC is looking at offering its solutions to operators, teaming up with equipment suppliers. Standards for 5G are expected to be announced by 2020.”

Predictive technology capability using big data is expected to throw up a number of possibilities in offering solutions to different sectors in the economy, he said.