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Nov 18 2016

Fujitsu Forum Keynotes Emphasize Importance of Supercomputing and AI

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Experiencing Fujitsu's latest products and solutions first hand was certainly a perfect reason to attend the Fujitsu Forum in Munich. But it's the keynote addresses in particular that allow a deeper look into the future of the company and the computing world on the whole. In their keynotes, Fujitsu's president Tatsuya Tanaka, Fujitsu's CEO, Senior Vice President and Head of Americas and EMEIA Duncan Tait as well as Fujitsu's EMEIA CTO Dr. Joseph Reger gave valuable insights into imminent market trends and the medium-term strategies of the company.

The motto of 2016's Fujitsu Forum was "Driving Digital Transformation". In his opening keynote, Fujitsu president Tatsuya Tanaka made very clear that this motto was no marketing language denoting the natural evolution of products and services, but precisely describes the overall future-oriented strategy of the company.

Tanaka-san gave many examples that are suitable to prove this claim. He emphasized the leading role Fujitsu takes in supercomputing and proudly announced that Fujitsu's K Computer ranked first in the widely recognized Graph 500 ranking that was just released on the day before his keynote. Meanwhile, the renowned TOP500 list of supercomputers, ranks Oakforest-PACS, a new system consisting of 8,208 PRIMERGY CX1640 M1 server nodes with a total of over 556,000 Xeon Phi processors that delivers 13.6 petaflops in the LINPACK benchmark, in position # 6 – one better than the K computer. Both Fujitsu systems are among the world's most powerful supercomputers and play an important role in solving problems like climate change, sustainable energy production, improving healthcare in aging societies and many more.

Mr. Tanaka additionally highlighted biometrics to be one of the key drivers of upcoming disruptive trends. Fujitsu is already involved in trials to replace conventional credit cards with palm vein recognition In Indonesia – a trend that is very likely to spread fast into other regions of the world.

Further according to Mr. Tanaka, Fujitsu continues to forge alliances with other leading players within and outside of the computing industry to meet the challenges posed by the rising importance and propagation of IoT applications, the proliferation of cloud-based solutions and other technological developments we are facing today.

"The power of tech grows every day. But with great power comes great responsibility," Tatsuya Tanaka reminded his audience as he handed over the stage to Fujitsu's CEO, Senior Vice President and Head of Americas and EMEIA Duncan Tait.

Preparing for Disruption Is the Best Way to Deal with the Future
Welcoming approximately 14,000 international attendees of this year's Fujitsu Forum, Duncan Tait reassured his audience both in the auditorium as well as following the live stream of the keynotes at their computers: "Being afraid of disruption is only justified if you are not prepared for it." So the principal challenge will be to shape the immediate future and to seize the opportunities of a hyper-connected world. And as Duncan Tait pointed out, solutions supporting this are exactly what Fujitsu offers to its channel partners and their customers.

Mr. Tait emphasized that technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), Security, and cloud services play a key role in this context – and thus in the company's innovations presented at Fujitsu Forum 2016. At the end of his keynote, he expressed his strong belief that "[w]e live in a golden age of innovation and value creation," and that the company is well-prepared to handle the challenges associated with digital transformation.

A Deeper Look into Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
When Dr. Joseph Reger, Fujitsu's EMEIA CTO, presented his Forum keynote the following day, he amended these thoughts with a very comprehensive and almost philosophical look at current and upcoming developments in Artificial Intelligence.

Dr. Reger emphasized the great advancements that have been made in this area in recent years. Machine learning has been used in applications like search engines, speech recognition, credit rating, optimizing assembly lines and many more for some time now. Likewise, image recognition has been another field where neural networks achieve impressive results. Interestingly, the principles of image processing have also proven valuable in order to tackle quite different problems: With a method that Dr. Reger named "imagification", data from other domains like cyber security or climate research can be prepared for AI-based analyses. Incorporating transfer learning, AI algorithms need almost no training and very little time to adapt to new problems and situations, Dr. Reger reported.

To verify these claims, Fujitsu's AI expert Kozo Otsuka gave a practical demonstration of a machine learning system interpreting motion data from a wrist sensor he was wearing. Based on its neural network, the system reliably recognized/identified activities like handshaking, waving, clapping or taking photos. Further examples for successful implementation of machine learning and image recognition include camera-based analyses of parking lots (cf. our picture at the top), airport security situations, asset tracking, behavioral surveys in real-world shopping situations, and even damage analysis after hurricanes or earthquakes. Another important field of application will be cyber security.

Despite the great number of useful applications, Dr. Reger also pointed out possible risks of this. He made clear that it is a still unsolved question whether AI's implications for the job market will be positive or negative. According to Dr. Reger, a rise of AI is however inevitable: "It will come, whatever we do. As a society, we need to talk about this [...] And the most important question is: are we prepared for it?"

To offer a solution to these hard questions, Dr. Reger suggested that we approach AI in "the same way we educate our children." Fujitsu's traditions like human-centric computing and workplaces have already evolved into the concept of "human-centric AI" – a term that was coined at Fujitsu Forum 2016.

 
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