Fujitsu wants technology to shape a better future – its technology, of course

Quantum, HPC, and AI to take us to rainbow sunshine happy land

Fujitsu wants to make the world a better place and thinks technology is the way to do it. Fujitsu technology, naturally.

The Japanese multinational laid out its vision – outlining an automated, converged world, with AI to support decision making – for the next decade or so during its ActivateNow: Technology Summit online. Fujitsu also explained how it believes technology will help to address various global challenges, including climate change, biodiversity, inequality, and (in developed countries) an ageing population.

Kicking off the keynote address, CTO Vivek Mahajan said Fujitsu believes it has a responsibility as a tech company to address global issues, and saw technology as key to solving these challenges. "The potential for innovation to make a positive impact is enormous," he said.

Mahajan predicted that the current decade will usher in a world of vast computing resources thanks to advances in both conventional and quantum processing technology, and that everyone will be seamlessly connected. It will also be an automated world, with AI to support decision making, and a converged world where technology is expected to "improve people's lives in in a way that is natural and adds value."

Hirotaka Hara, Fujitsu's representative director and head of Fujitsu Research, claimed it has established "a clear vision of the future to around 2030," and that this will shape the strategy and actions that need to be taken today, with activities at Fujitsu Research determined by this process.

He highlighted two "innovation visions" – the transformation of discovery, and convergence of digital technology with humanities and social sciences, which are required because the world needs a new strategy to accelerate discovery of new solutions for challenges such as reducing CO2 emissions and people's wellbeing.

To address this, Fujitsu is working on delivering significant advances in compute power by integrating quantum computing with traditional HPC technology, according to Hirotaka. He added that quantum technology will be able to handle "exponentially larger data sets" and new problems, and believes this technology will be widely available by 2030.

Hirotaka said Fujitsu is developing its own quantum technology, and as the firm is already one of the players in supercomputing with its Arm-based Fugaku system, it has strong credentials when it claims to be working to combine the two technologies.

A successful integration is hoped to lead to a "new compute paradigm" that will reduce time for major discoveries, especially in fields such as drug discovery, through the ability to run higher speed simulations, Fujitsu said.

Like most other big tech firms, Fujitsu is also looking at AI as a key technology, especially for areas such as scientific discovery, as AI is able to infer relationships in complex data. However, Fujitsu said it is important to use explainable AI techniques such as its Deep Tensor technology so researchers can understand how the AI delivered its results.

One area Fujitsu highlighted is finding cancer cures, applying AI to cancer and genetic analysis in order to open up a path to personalised treatment. Explainable AI may be able to identify the cause of specific cancers, and allow doctors to understand these.

But what about concerns that technology such as AI may replace humans and put them out of work? Fujitsu acknowledged this, but claims that it "puts people at the centre of everything" and that innovation is driven by people, so the role of technology is to complement people and help them deliver results faster.

Going beyond this, the company claimed that technology can actually be used to address complex social challenges by converging data-driven intelligence with human insight. This laudable goal is apparently to be met through the development of "social digital twin" technology, bringing together the digital world and behavioural sciences.

This is supposed to allow civic authorities to rehearse how policies designed to address various problems will change human behaviours, and develop consensus-based decisions, according to Yoshikuni Takashige, head of Fujitsu's Technology Strategy Unit.

"A big challenge for policymakers is how to explain the future impact of programmes to businesses and citizens, Digital Twin technology can help all stakeholders understand where we are today and what will happen if we don’t change behaviours," he said.

Fujitsu's digital twin approach uses very large stream data processing technology, using a model it has already developed called Dracena, which apparently stands for the word salad Dynamically-Reconfigurable Asynchronous Consistent EveNt processing Architecture.

If all this sounds a bit touchy-feely, it's possibly because Fujitsu thinks we're going through a period of upheaval, and as Yoshikuni stated, we are "living in an uncertain world" and "technology can empower people to drive the actions we need to take now." Just don't mention the Post Office Horizon scandal. ®

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