Bell Labs initiates debate on the transformation of economies and societies with The Future X Network
Can the network of the future be defined today? Bell Labs president Marcus Weldon and his team come closest to approaching an understanding of the technologies and architectures in place and in prospect, and their service to human existence, in The Future X Networks (http://www.bell-labs.com/our-research/future-x-book/#).
The book is organised around numerous themes, each of which addresses core aspects of daily lives. Through Weldon and his fellow authors, Bell Labs offers insights into network performance and efficiency, augmented intelligence and automation, technological developments and universal connectivity, and the commercial and social benefits to emerging and established markets of "Future X Network" deployments.
A new network, a new world
This is the first book that Bell Labs has published. "We thought it was about time the industry had a better dialogue about the future," Weldon said. He seeks to open up an agnostic debate on the possibilities of a technological revolution that will fundamentally change society. No products are mentioned; it is vendor-free.
It is a book for discussion, not a book with answers. "There are lots of things here that are highly speculative," Weldon said.
Collectively, Bell Labs senses a new era, defined by automation, in which technologists are developing the capacity to transform economy and eventually society. It may be revolutionary. It may be eventually defined as a revolutionary point in human history. This is to be an era of digital interfaces and data analysis. Of automation, Weldon said, "This is not going to be an era of Big Data. It is going to be an era of small knowledge."
The Automation Age follows the Information Age, the last industrial revolution, in which commerce has been transformed by connectivity and new ways of sharing experiences and products. This extends now into contextual automated experiences and new forms of user-generated content. Everything becomes connected over time, and it is over this period of time that economies and societies are transformed. Individuals and institutions become increasingly interconnected and interdependent.
Latency is going to be a key driver of development of new network architectures. Application processing times and network resources must maintain satisfactory balances in order to add value to services. Latency matters, particularly as applications and networks become more sophisticated, whether service providers are handling special cases such as financial trading or general cases such as gaming. The network has to be scaled with a massively distributed cloud, in order to deliver sufficient response times. Latency impacts bandwidth. TCP throughput relies on a balance between TCP window size and round-trip latency.
Weldon observed, "Edge clouds for latency and bandwidth are going to be the new key paradigm."
Edge cloud and access technology are critical components in enabling the transformation to new digital realities. They will allow for huge amounts of data processing and ubiquitous connectivity, serving increasingly automated and self-aware economies. As Weldon observed at the 2015 edition of Mobile World Congress, the objective of new technological deployment is to create or save time, so that more can be achieved. Time is the true unit of value in the digital world.
Regardless of how else the new era is defined, the ability to create or save time with new network technologies - with "Future X Network" deployments - is a key defining factor in the new Automated Age addressed by Marcus Weldon and Bell Labs.