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How Lenovo desires to unlock AI for all at the sting | Kirk Skaugen interview

It makes a number of sense to place AI as far out on the sting of the network as possible, as it may well solve problems for people like first responders and reduce the quantity of useless storage sent to the cloud.

Lenovo demonstrated a bunch of those solutions on the recent Mobile World Congress 24 show in Barcelona, Spain. The big company unveiled its “AI for All” vision with telco customer solutions that can speed up global AI deployment.

Kirk Skaugen, EVP and president of infrastructure solutions group at Lenovo, spoke with me in regards to the plans deploy public safety AI applications at the sting and reduce power consumption of cloud services by 25%. The company has partnered with the likes of Telefonica, Orange Business, Intel and Rakuten to propel innovation and savings across industries with integrated solutions for mass deployment of AI at the sting.

The goal is the assistance enterprises harness vast bodies of knowledge on the far edge for transformative AI applications at scale while reducing energy consumption. The innovations are a part of a comprehensive pocket-to-cloud portfolio of Lenovo Hybrid AI solutions designed to simplify the trail to intelligent transformation for all industries and are attracting recent customer collaborations with industry leaders, like Telefonica, that unlock the ability of AI anywhere data.

As the telecom industry continues its dramatic evolution to enable the rollout of 5G and an AI-powered future, innovations in IoT networks, cloud infrastructure and edge computing are critical to connecting today’s digital economy. Edge computing allows businesses to research data in real-time, enabling faster actionable insights for more efficient operations and services.

Combined with AI-optimized servers its ecosystem of partners, Lenovo’s comprehensive range of far edge to cloud solutions are enabling key service providers to quickly deploy a complete network of high-power computing to drive revolutionary efficiency and intelligence for their very own customers and beyond.

Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

Kirk Skaugen is EVP and president of the infrastructure solutions group at Lenovo.

Kirk Skaugen: I just got back from Barcelona Supercomputing. We’re now running the biggest Intel-only supercomputer on this planet, non-GPU. We’re number 19 on the highest 500, but just CPUs. All water-cooled.

VentureBeat: I keep in mind that place because I examine it in a Dan Brown book, .

Skaugen: That’s right! I got a signed copy from Mateo Valero. They were very excited that Dan was inspired when he went and took a tour. I’m still waiting for the following Tom Cruise movie where he comes down from the ceiling into the center of the info center.

VentureBeat: What are the massive topics in your mind?

Skaugen: I had a briefing last night from the those that run MWC. It’s almost back to the very best–we’ll see what the ultimate count is, nevertheless it’s almost back to pre-COVID attendance. We have our pocket to cloud strategy. Edge, AI, and sustainability are our core messages here. We have tons of devices. We have software stacks validated for management orchestration. We have cool hardware. We’re leading beyond Intel now into AMD at the sting. We have good carrier relationships.

You may remember, we’re powering the smart city of Barcelona now on the street kiosks with our edge servers. We can do things like, if there’s an accident within the night, it may well routinely call the police, detect if an ambulance is required, call more first responders. Those are more traditional AI use cases at the sting.

We’re also doing things like helping the visually impaired walk the streets of Barcelona. Not just coming as much as a street corner, but “Hey, there’s a bicyclist coming up behind you, watch out.” If you concentrate on five years from now, you’ll be able to get an expert shopper with AR glasses. Get in your notebook, send them to the market, and have them taste the olives. If he likes them as an expert olive taster, you’ll be able to get them sent to your apartment.

Tech can save lives out on the sting.

What we announced this week, with Telefonica we’re doing town of Madrid as well. We’re using Moto for push to speak on their 5G network. We’re using town cameras, and even putting drones within the air, to detect fire and smoke for faster police response. I believed that was somewhat crazy at first. How many fires do you’ve here? But they’re running drones and using AI algorithms to detect smoke and fire. If there’s a giant multi-building fire they will put the drone up and choose how one can deploy the response more effectively. That’s a cool one.

We have a brand new AMD edge server. We’ve tested this thing with Orange. We’re getting 25% lower power in cloud. We even have something that’s 50% higher in CPU performance, 3 times the variety of GPUs, half the ability. We have this tested with some telcos. We get 46-52% lower power for the ORAN network and 50% for the acoustics. What we mean by that’s, whenever you’re in someone’s retail edge locations, the limiter has been the fans. We won a big retailer in Australia because our competition didn’t meet the security spec. The server was spinning with the GPUs. People were on conference calls and so they couldn’t meet the acoustic spec. We created some patented technology around how we’re using the twin rotor fans and the way the screws undergo the chassis, so that they don’t create turbulence. That product is incredible. Every big telco is talking about finally deploying their open radio access network. There’s such a spotlight over here on sustainability. When you say you’re 46-52% lower power, they’re definitely listening.

We created this thing called Letopia, a virtual city. We have 7 million urban subscribers, 3 million rural subscribers. We have all of the connectivity. We use the perfect assumptions from the telcos. You take a look at Letopia now and you’ll be able to see how you’ll be able to run your ORAN at 50% lower power. That was a takeaway for just about every major telco. We also validated–Intel has the brand new Intel Edge Compute Platform. All the parents that got here over from VMware created this edge orchestration. We won T Systems global data centers in Barcelona. Now you’ve one server in 10,000 locations as an alternative of 10,000 servers in a single location. You can go right into a fast food chain, authenticate together with your Motorola phone, and it’ll inform you if there’s a drive-through or a kiosk. Maybe you’re in an airport, so that you don’t need the drive-through automation software. It’ll download every thing from firmware, BIOS, all the best way as much as the containers. Then we hand it to the Intel Edge Compute Platform and so they do all the applying optimization. We did it with each Intel and with Rakuten. I feel they’re the biggest ORAN software company on this planet.

They were giving me an outline. Close to 50% of the those that come to MWC should not in tech anymore. They’re verticals, business managers. If you went back to 1999 many of the audience would have been the carriers, the chip makers, the software providers, the systems manufacturers. More and more persons are going since it’s becoming so multifaceted. It’s becoming a form of combination of CES and the old 3GPP and Davos. Everything cooked together.

Lenovo and Telefonica have teamed up on AI at the sting.

I could be so productive here, it’s unbelievable. You can meet Intel, AMD, Nvidia, VMware. I bumped into the CEO of Deutsche Telekom. He met us, after which he was off to the Intel booth. The chip goes to the system, the system goes to Deutsche Telekom, after which you’ve the top user, who is perhaps a automobile company, and so they’re here too. You have all of the layers of the ecosystem here, from chips to software to systems to telcos to finish users. We’re all just rotating around one another’s booths.

VentureBeat: I desired to drill in a bit on the smart cities. How widespread is that this now? You have Barcelona and also you’re moving to Madrid. Do you see that coming on strong?

Skaugen: Definitely. We’ve done Bogota, Colombia, for instance. They were having a number of automobile thefts. If they do a quite simple algorithm that matches a license plate with a color and kind of automobile, they will detect if someone’s swapped license plates. That cut down dramatically on automobile thefts. We’re doing every Kroger within the U.S. now, which isn’t smart city, but–for a very long time these items were proofs of concept. You might do it in a pair stores. But now we’re in each Kroger self-checkout. We took the identical solution to each K-Mart in Australia. Their ROI was a month and a half. Theft went down 75% within the self-checkouts. These ROIs are compelling enough now that you simply’re beginning to see widespread adoption.

We did this AI innovator program. Three years ago we invested $1.2 billion in AI, and we just invested one other $1 billion. We had 4 global AI innovation centers. The problem these people have, you’d think they’ve massive IT departments, but really they could have five people to work on AI. There are 16,000 AI startups on the market. We found 50 or so, the perfect ISVs. Sometimes we’d invested in the corporate. Then we’ve created 165 solutions. With Kroger and K-Mart it’s Everseen.

VentureBeat: For those grocery applications, self-checkout, what kind of information do they get back?

Skaugen: They can’t really go to the cloud, because inside 15 seconds the person will likely be outside the shop. Of course, 85% of it’s just mis-scans. That’s pretty easy. The camera that’s sitting above the self-checkout–the scales are 20 years old sometimes. People are getting sophisticated at stealing. They know exactly how much a can of Kool-Aid weighs. They’ll peel that label off and put it on a $55 cut of meat that weighs the identical. The scale says it’s right, the Kool-Aid says it’s right, however the camera sees it’s meat. They can immediately detect that.

Then they’ve what they call “friending.” You’re scanning and scanning, after which your friend shows up and something “unintentionally” doesn’t run over the scanner. Detecting the arm movement to see if something’s really going over the scanner. Detecting the latency in this sort of thing. They can check and see if there are things that weren’t scanned because they were on the underside of the cart.

VentureBeat: Are there other advantages beyond theft control?

Getting info into the hands of firefighters.

Skaugen: There’s the classic profit to the buyer, giving them real time coupons once they’re doing the appropriate thing. But now they’re moving it into the aisle. Apparently the primary thing stolen at Kroger is Tide pods. You can take these very large containers, split them up, and sell them at flea markets. They can take it out into the parking zone and look ahead to shopping carts running into cars. Who’s really at fault?

VentureBeat: There’s this invisible AI presence. People don’t understand it’s there.

Skaugen: Stores have all the time had security guards, but now–with CTRO they will do analytics, nevertheless it’s just using a stick figure. There’s a European spec to make sure that there’s no identity recorded. You can see the person on the gas pump. You can see how many individuals go into the shop, where they spend their time, how much money they spend. We were doing a pilot around what number of EV chargers you must put in front of the shop. The CFO needed to get the ROI. This person charged his automobile, walked in the shop, and spent a median of X% more. You can determine the ROI on letting someone charge their automobile. How many stations were occupied, for a way much time, and the way much revenue did that result in? How many individuals walk right into a convenience store and go straight to the restroom without buying anything?

VentureBeat: I wanted to have a look at the division between the cloud and the sting in relation to things like these AI PCs that everyone seems to be talking about now. The profit is imagined to be having your personal private LLM run by your PC’s AI processing. Then your private data doesn’t have to go away your private home. Are there things that have to exit into the infrastructure, though? Where is the dividing line?

Skaugen: We consider there will likely be three different sorts of generative AI. There will likely be public LLMs. There will likely be enterprise LLMs for data sovereignty and regulatory reasons. Some people have already committed to the cloud. Some people absolutely won’t commit to the cloud. Then there will likely be private LLMs in your PC or phone.

The interesting thing is, whenever you ask a matter, how does it grow to be contextually aware? Are you asking a public query? Maybe you need to know the highest 10 places people go on vacation. Maybe you need to know a spot you must go on vacation this weekend. But then it must know your schedule. It must know where you might be. It must know that you simply don’t just like the beach around there since you’ve been there before and also you hated it. It must know that you’ve to be in New York on Monday. Maybe you need to know a mixture of the general public response and something catered to your personal preferences and schedule.

Obviously we’ve got to navigate a Microsoft ecosystem and a Google ecosystem. If you’ve personal AI in your phone and your PC, you don’t need to have two digital twins of yourself, one on each device. Somehow we’ve got to make sure that gets done appropriately. At the identical time, we don’t need to overhype these items. With Centrino, at the very least you either had one otherwise you didn’t. You knew that should you had Centrino and also you walked right into a Hilton or a Marriott, it could connect. The logo was within the lobby. The difference for me, now you’ve to begin with, “What is an AI PC?” We should proceed to evolve, but we’re not attempting to say it’s all here today. There are multiple phases coming. They will get smarter and smarter.

Ultimately the digital twin makes you smarter, more relevant–my son is applying for colleges. He wanted me to go and find all of the images of him volunteering from the last five years. It took me 45 minutes within the taxi today trying to seek out these pictures. I had some basic knowledge of places to look. But in the long run, an AI PC could do this for me and just give me the reply with a high degree of accuracy and index all of it. The usage models will likely be interesting.

AI at the sting is the long run.

We’re showing a few concepts, more old-fashioned innovation concepts here. We have a transparent display notebook. You can put items behind the screen and the camera will detect them. They’re imagining creators that may sit by the side of a river, put their notebook down, and sketch a bridge over the river on the transparent display, using a pen on the screen. We have a reverse foldable. I feel we’re primary in foldables within the U.S. now. The reverse fold allows you to wear it as a bracelet.

VentureBeat: The sovereign concept–if we’ve got secure computer communications, do we actually care where the info is? Things like sovereign enterprise data or sovereign personal data, keeping that data near you versus keeping it in some form of cloud. Why do you think that the architecture should still be focused on keeping your data as local as possible?

Skaugen: Some of that’s going to be determined by governments no matter what the technical reality is. You just acknowledged that. Where is the connectivity? Could the connectivity be removed? We’re very clear at Lenovo, provided that we’ve got 35 global factories–we want our factories to live no matter whether the WAN goes down between any two countries. We have to find a way to take orders and provide chain and all that kind of thing through resiliency. You’ve got that. Then you’ve the contextual awareness of what’s public, what’s enterprise, and what’s private. Also we predict you must have transparency into the info sources that gave you the reply. Is your answer 80% public, 20% private? Is it 100% private or public? How do you create that algorithm? I don’t think we’ve got it found out yet, but actually research is working on that.

VentureBeat: Is it a provided that the AI processing belongs with the info?

Skaugen: We’re going to double the info on this planet over the past three years. That’s more data than created within the history of the world. We’re throwing away 98% of it. We need to bring AI to the info as an alternative of bringing data to the cloud.

VentureBeat: The cloud can’t store all of it.

AI hardware is selling like hotcakes.

Skaugen: If you’re monitoring a door, whether the door has been open, since it’s imagined to be a secure door, you’ll be able to throw away 99% of the info. Nothing’s happening. But when someone walks through it, then you definitely’re going to need to process that. You’re going to want a direct answer, a really specific answer. You should want to go to the cloud for that, or to your corporate database. Was that somebody who was authorized to go in there? Same thing with employee safety in a warehouse. Are they in places they’re not imagined to be? I don’t think you need to run all that data to the cloud to get analyzed. You only need to drive it up there when there’s something interesting. Those are a few of the characteristics.

We’re a bit unique versus our top two competitors in infrastructure, because we sell to eight of the highest 10 clouds. If you’re our two major competitors, they don’t take part in the highest 10 clouds on this planet. If you take a look at my earnings announcements, I’m often talking about 40-50% public cloud, 50% on-premises. We’re attempting to be quite neutral within the hybrid world. We’re not saying every thing needs to be a service on-prem. If you need to go to a giant cloud, we’ve got several billion-dollar cloud customers. That’s okay with Lenovo, because we sell servers and storage to the cloud. We’re attempting to give it some thought that way. To your point, I feel it’s going to be hybrid. But most significant, you must have complete control of what data goes where, transparency on that. Also, we’ve got an ethical AI committee to make sure that there’s no bias within the products and the answers. You hear lots about that. Sustainability and ethical AI.

VentureBeat: What in regards to the sourcing of the info, whether it’s legitimately owned or licensed?

Skaugen: Exactly. What are the sources for the answers you’re getting? I asked a generative AI in a competitor’s booth what was the biggest storage company on this planet, and it said Lenovo. Okay, we’re not there yet! Very convincing answer, but we’re number three, not primary.

VentureBeat: With someone like Kroger, I assume it’s a no brainer that AI and cameras go together, and there’s obvious ROI there. What are some things which might be more on the frontier, where there’s promise, but you’re undecided the ROI is there yet?

Skaugen: We’re working with greater than 50% of the fast food chains within the U.S. For example, should you cook a chicken sandwich and also you’re waiting for the Uber Eats driver to select it up and it’s been there long enough to grow to be a food safety hazard–it’s almost like what you’d have done with an unattended suitcase at an airport. AI at the sting is getting to some extent where you’ll be able to get this deployed in a container on a server you already own, you may address issues like that. We’re working with some Chinese chains to make sure that they replenish their buffet. You don’t just get a employee to make a round every half-hour to switch the broccoli. They can have a camera to see if a football team got here in and ate every thing in five minutes.

We can do license plate detection. If you decide in, very critical, to be a frequent customer, they will now tell how many purchasers in line on the drive-through are going to order french fries. They can have your order on the screen before you arrive, since it’s Tuesday after your kid’s soccer game and you mostly order a Happy Meal, and your kid has a really particular customization due to a food allergy. You don’t must talk through that each single time. I’ve probably spent half-hour within the Panera drive-through because I’m so particular in regards to the sandwich I would like. If I could just walk up there, it knows who I’m, and my order pops up exactly as I would like it each time? That seems really easy. Now we’re doing multiple languages within the drive-through, speech to text. That’s also an interesting use case.

Shopping at the sting.

You’ve probably seen a few of the more far-out cases. We’re working with Grupo Pinsa, one in every of the larger Pacific fishing fleets. When the fish go into the web, they will take a look at the dimensions. They have a greater supply-demand picture, because they know exactly what number of fish are within the tank. They know if the fish are too small and so they can kick them off the boat straight away. They can make sure that they don’t have endangered species in the web, because they get fined. It’s almost like Procter and Gamble, talking about an HPC example on the Pringles line. If you had a black, burnt potato chip, it could shoot it off the assembly line. Now you’ve these items on fishing boats. With no connectivity on the market it needs to be an edge server. It is perhaps three days before they arrive back to port. Then the marketing department already knows the supply-demand picture and might price in response to what’s on the boat. That’s a brilliant cool fringe example.

It took us greater than a yr, yr and a half to get an oil rig safety spec. It took us greater than a yr to get the grease spec for a few of the fast food chains, because these items are mounted on the wall above the fryer. They’ll kick up the fans. These edge servers–people were plugging their phones into the USB ports of the server in the shop. Not exactly great for security. They have lockable bezels on them now. Our recent edge server has a GPS on it. You can say, “Find my server.” If it moves in any respect, or should you remove the quilt, it’ll take the keys off the drive. You can protect the info, even should you’re not in a knowledge center with fences and security guards and biometrics. It’s just sitting on a factory floor or at the back of a kitchen. Those are some unique things happening on the hardware side.

VentureBeat: I’m inquisitive about the entire industrial metaverse and digital twin initiatives. Things like Nvidia’s OmniVerse. They’re suggesting that we’re going to have some enormous ROI coming out of that.

Skaugen: I don’t know should you know this, but Satya and Jensen announced that Lenovo is the exclusive provider to the Nvidia OmniVerse. When you’re an end user, an Nvidia customer, you run on Lenovo hosted within the Azure cloud. As persons are constructing these recent EV factories and digital twinning your entire thing–whether you think in 6G or 5G+ or simply 5G finally hitting the mainstream, you see the adoption curves between now and 2028. The crossover is finally hitting between 4G and 5G. They’re doing to digital twin their entire tower network. We were on a few of the largest wind turbine farms on this planet with HPC, determining the turbulence going through one blade, where to put the following blade. Now you’re talking about how one can get roads through 200, 300 wind turbines up on a mountaintop. These are major construction costs.

I used to be talking to one in every of the biggest mining firms in India. I believed I had a tough job. They’re like, “There’s a mountain. We have 1,000 people living on it. We must move them. We must be environmentally friendly. We must do erosion control. We must dig a hole a few kilometers deep and get every thing in there out.” Every one in every of these items is being digital twinned. I’m a giant proponent without delay. The excellent news is we’re leading on this one.

The coolest thing I’ve seen here walking around, which has nothing to do with Lenovo–there are such a lot of robo-dogs. I’ve never seen so many. They’re unbelievable, the personality. They stop, look up at you, shake their heads. They can do backflips. They’ve began having a personality now. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. But it’s the primary time I’ve seen robo-dogs with personality. People are walking them on leashes across the MWC show floor. I don’t know in regards to the usefulness. I’ve seen them in Japan for years. But now they’re finally interesting.


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