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Introduction of AI Avengers – ABCD5I

The Faculty of Business of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) hosted a Knowledge Transfer Forum themed “Introduction of AI Avengers – ABCD5I” on 22 July 2021. The event was addressed by Professor Charleston Sin, Professor of Practice in the Faculty. It covered an introduction to five emerging digital technologies - Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Cloud Computing, Big Data, and 5G/loT (the Internet of Things), real cases and their recent trends and interaction.

Sin’s presentation began with blockchain where he provided an overview and key concepts before citing examples of applications, including the strategic implementation of a blockchain-based service platform in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. He then elaborated on the relationship between blockchain and the Internet.

With regard to 5G and IoT, Sin pointed out that “although 5G technology can provide better mobile experience for customers, consumer market is not the real driver behind 5G revolution”. IoT has been developed with a large number of devices connected, machine-to-machine communication, and a large amount of information generated. In view of the large scale, industrial IoT was promising but the challenge was its low latency. “With 5G technology, IoT can play a trade-off game with the advantages of speed, scale and latency,” Sin emphasized.

Professor Sin continued his sharing with the introduction of cloud computing. This technology’s demand side is driven by SMEs, enterprises and the general public while its supply side is from cloud service providers. “The implication of cloud computing is essentially unlimited computation power,” he said. Recently, cloud computing has driven AI growth such as in the areas of drug discovery, genome informatics, etc. With a lower entry barrier, the technology has been benefiting start-ups in general.

“Big Data involves tools, technologies and practices related to processing and analysing a massive amount of data,” Professor Sin explained. The main difference between big data processing and traditional modelling techniques exists in the phases of data acquisition, data preparation and visualization communication. He used a real-life case from Professor Gabriel Leung in The University of Hong Kong to illustrate the creative use of data. Professor Leung once mentioned, “Octopus data is one of the most important data sources that can help the HKU medicine faculty identify the contact patterns and density of city residents in different areas and play a significant role in combating the pandemic.”

Professor Sin went on to discuss the value of data with its use in bioinformatics, an interdisciplinary field of science combining biology, computer science, information engineering, mathematics and statistics in the analysis and interpretation of biological data. One of the things that make bioinformatics interesting is the convergence of people from different fields, he added.

As for Artificial Intelligence, Sin said that its applications are almost everywhere in our daily life, such as the use of chatbots in customer services. However, as of today, AI is still far from perfect. The biases are due to data and algorithm while AI power houses are also pushing back due to ethics. “In future, three factors that can drive the advance of AI are algorithmic innovation, data, and the amount of compute available for training,” Sin concluded.