“Infratech” is one of the more recent tech terms but it is right at the heart of at least two developments in modern society. First – it relates to the infrastructure needed to give us the digital networks that increasingly underpin modern life. The Covid crisis has demonstrated the criticality and robustness of digital infrastructures role in enabling the continuance of a civil society in lockdown. From a funding/investment perspective, the fiber networks, phone masts, data centers, sub-sea cables and satellites which form part of that infrastructure constitute a substantial asset class. Second – smart infrastructure is evolving and making existing infrastructure more intelligent. For example adding sensors to off-shore wind farms allows for the creation of digital twins which can be used to monitor their operation and optimize their efficiency. Adding sensors to traffic signals enables them to respond to the traffic volumes thereby reducing congestion. The operation of smart infrastructure relies on the analysis of the data that has been collected by these sensors, artificial intelligence is often needed to make sense of the data.
Smart infrastructure has the potential to create enormous benefits by increasing the efficiency with which we use the world’s resources but this is largely going to depend on the ability of artificial intelligence to make use of the vast pools of data that the internet of things will generate.
– What order of magnitude of increase in data generation and processing power will be needed to enable us to live in smart cities with autonomous vehicles?
– What externalities need to be borne in mind when we plan smart infrastructure, bearing in mind that the generation of Bitcoins currently consumes around as much electricity annually as the whole of Switzerland?
– Are there dangers in us becoming too reliant upon AI systems in the processing of big data?
– Who owns big data and takes the benefit of processing it and has the law kept up with the changing landscape?
Roger Bickerstaff, Bird & Bird
Astrid Atkinson, Camus Energy
Zach Shelby, Edge Impulse
Conrad Purcell, Bird & Bird
Jean Innes, Faculty
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