AI set to deliver boom in data centre market
AI is set to deliver a boom in data centre investment, according to analysts at Frost & Sullivan.
Investment in data centres is forecast to grow by 9.9 per cent CAGR as big data and IoT drive demand for capacity in all markets, led by APAC, followed by North America and EMEA.
Researchers identified four key areas for growth:
Connected devices, connected living/homes, AI, gaming and video streaming, autonomous cars, and virtual and augmented reality will propel edge data centres.
Surging AI usage in data centers will lead to demand for advanced electronics and specialists in AI-based solutions for data center applications and architecture.
As data processing takes place close to the source, the processing time reduces. This will augment technologies like autonomous vehicles, smart devices and sensors and augmented reality.
Geographic expansion and partnerships
Market participants need to focus on high-growth, emerging markets, like India and Southeast Asia, where data creation is still in the nascent stage and data centre construction is in its infancy. Similarly, partnerships with colocation and cloud service providers will give equipment manufacturers access to new data centre construction markets, providing them the much-needed boost.
‘Need to innovate’
Manoj Shankar, research analyst, energy and environment practice, Frost & Sullivan, said, "The move from enterprise to cloud and colocation data centres will gain momentum because companies can reduce capital and operational costs by avoiding investments in hardware or software infrastructure and reducing maintenance and space requirements.
"Additionally, 5G will move processing closer to the point of data collection, leading to increased deployment of micro and edge data centres and driving investments in new and next-generation data centre technologies.
"Onsite cloud data centres will become crucial as companies will require critical data to be kept in-house or at a nearby location, thereby lessening the security risks such as data theft. Further, given the high demand for modular data centres and competitive pressures, modular data centre manufacturers need to innovate in this space and come up with advanced concepts that allow additional flexibility and modularity."
Chinese Firm Taigusys Launches Emotion-Recognition System
In a detailed investigative report, the Guardian reported that Chinese tech company Taigusys can now monitor facial expressions. The company claims that it can track fake smiles, chart genuine emotions, and help police curtail security threats. ‘Ordinary people here in China aren’t happy about this technology, but they have no choice. If the police say there have to be cameras in a community, people will just have to live with it’, said Chen Wei, company founder and chairman. ‘There’s always that demand, and we’re here to fulfil it’.
Who Will Use the Data?
As of right now, the emotion-recognition market is supposed to be worth US$36bn by 2023—which hints at rapid global adoption. Taigusys counts Huawei, China Mobile, China Unicom, and PetroChina among its 36 clients, but none of them has yet revealed if they’ve purchased the new AI. In addition, Taigusys will likely implement the technology in Chinese prisons, schools, and nursing homes.
It’s not likely that emotion-recognition AI will stay within the realm of private enterprise. President Xi Jinping has promoted ‘positive energy’ among citizens and intimated that negative expressions are no good for a healthy society. If the Chinese central government continues to gain control over private companies’ tech data, national officials could use emotional data for ideological purposes—and target ‘unhappy’ or ‘suspicious’ citizens.
How Does It Work?
Taigusys’s AI will track facial muscle movements, body motions, and other biometric data to infer how a person is feeling, collecting massive amounts of personal data for machine learning purposes. If an individual displays too much negative emotion, the platform can recommend him or her for what’s termed ‘emotional support’—and what may end up being much worse.
Can We Really Detect Human Emotions?
This is still up for debate, but many critics say no. Psychologists still debate whether human emotions can be separated into basic emotions such as fear, joy, and surprise across cultures or whether something more complex is at stake. Many claim that AI emotion-reading technology is not only unethical but inaccurate since facial expressions don’t necessarily indicate someone’s true emotional state.
In addition, Taigusys’s facial tracking system could promote racial bias. One of the company’s systems classes faces as ‘yellow, white, or black’; another distinguishes between Uyghur and Han Chinese; and sometimes, the technology picks up certain ethnic features better than others.
Is China the Only One?
Not a chance. Other countries have also tried to decode and use emotions. In 2007, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) launched a heavily contested training programme (SPOT) that taught airport personnel to monitor passengers for signs of stress, deception, and fear. But China as a nation rarely discusses bias, and as a result, its AI-based discrimination could be more dangerous.
‘That Chinese conceptions of race are going to be built into technology and exported to other parts of the world is troubling, particularly since there isn’t the kind of critical discourse [about racism and ethnicity in China] that we’re having in the United States’, said Shazeda Ahmed, an AI researcher at New York University (NYU).
Taigusys’s founder points out, on the other hand, that its system can help prevent tragic violence, citing a 2020 stabbing of 41 people in Guangxi Province. Yet top academics remain unconvinced. As Sandra Wachter, associate professor and senior research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, said: ‘[If this continues], we will see a clash with fundamental human rights, such as free expression and the right to privacy’.