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Are you ready for an AI puppy?

Dec 19,2017
“What color is the tennis ball?” I asked my elementary school child. “It’s yellow, fluorescent yellow!” he responded as if I was asking the most obvious question and went back to his book. About five decades ago, the tennis ball was white. When René Descartes, who famously said “cogito ergo sum,” used a tennis ball to explain the refraction of light in the 1600s, he must have used a white ball.

What changed the white tennis ball to yellow was the appearance of color television. In monochrome television, where screens only showed black and white, viewers didn’t have any problem finding the white ball in a tennis match broadcast. But in the age of color television, viewers experienced trouble following the white ball on the backdrop of colorfully dressed spectators. In 1972, the International Tennis Federation approved the optic yellow tennis ball.

Until recently, the consumption of various content was text-based. Lately, the shift is rapidly moving to video. What made a critical contribution was the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network, which is considered a fourth generation communications technology. The 3G communication introduced in the 2000s also allowed video calling but was not stable enough to provide video for long periods.

But in the age of LTE, it takes 5.6 seconds to download a movie, and users can easily send and receive videos, leading to exponential consumption. On social media such as Facebook, consumption and the sharing of video is increasing. Children today search for videos, not text, when they are curious about something.

At the PyeongChang Olympics, Korea will present a 5G pilot service that is 40 times faster than LTE. Many experts predict that in the 5G era, high-tech devices such as IoT, self-driving cars and AI robots will make substantial progress. They work better when then are connected to the network.

Technologies, not consumers, lead behavior and industrial changes. Lately, this trend is accelerating. Once self-driving cars become widely available, accidents will decrease drastically and we may no longer have auto insurance. We may need to be prepared to have AI pets along with pet animals.

When the internet was emerging 20 years ago, I wrote a forecast that by 2010, we will be connected to the internet anytime, anywhere, and the price for the routine convenience would be our privacy.

The reality in front of us goes beyond my prediction. Before it is too late, we need to have a discussion on what really helps mankind so that we can control technology instead of being controlled by it.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 18, Page 34

*The author is head of the Innovation Lab at the JoongAng Ilbo.