America to tackle 5G with AI and blockchains
Jessica Rosenworcel, a commissioner at the US Federal Communications Commission, believes that artificial intelligence and blockchain technology will give the US an edge in next-generation wireless networking over its big technological rival, China.
Speaking at the Business of Blockchain, an event organized by the MIT Media Lab's Digital Currency Initiative and MIT Technology Review, Rosenworcel said AI and blockchains would allow wireless devices to use different frequencies within what is known as the wireless spectrum more dynamically and flexibly, enabling billions of devices to connect to 5G networks at once.
The suite of technologies known as 5G allows devices to connect in a variety of ways, and over a range of the wireless spectrum. Rosenworcel said it will be imperative to devise better ways to allocate the spectrum.
The commissioner pointed to a competition being organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to devise new ways of negotiating over spectrum using AI. She said the FCC had recently begun researching whether a blockchain could help too. "If you put this on a public blockchain, you would have this public record of demand and could design systems differently," Rosenworcel said.
The White House seems increasingly concerned that the US might cede its position as a technology leader in 5G, with potentially dire consequences for its economy. This worry is behind the scrutiny of Huawei, one of China's most prominent and powerful companies.
"I am concerned that we are not positioned to lead," Rosenworcel said at the MIT event. But she added that AI and blockchains could be crucial to helping the US stay competitive with China in wireless technology.
In the US, China, and elsewhere, interest is growing in using AI to help advance wireless technologies, but this hasn't yet found its way into 5G networking products. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is currently researching how machine learning could help carve up the wireless spectrum.
"Many problems in wireless networks that require processing large amounts of data and making decisions quickly can benefit from AI," says Michael Souryal, the NIST researcher who leads the agency's work. "One example that we have been studying is the use of AI for real-time signal detection and classification, which is important for spectrum sharing."