Australian Cloud Computing is Transforming IT
To become more responsive, organisations are seeking information technology solutions that align with business strategy and are truly flexible enough to support changing needs and conditions. At the same time, budgets remain static or barely keep pace with the growing data requirements of existing applications.
To reconcile these conflicting demands, organisations need to transform the way they manage their information technology – to reduce capital expenses and operating costs while becoming nimble enough to meet the business challenges they face today and tomorrow.
For many organisations, cloud computing presents an appealing opportunity to do more with less for their IT systems. Cloud computing enables organisations to consume technology infrastructure, applications, activities or content as needed.
The concept of cloud computing, where computer hardware and software is delivered on demand from centralised data centres, is transforming the way enterprises purchase IT infrastructure. The simplicity that comes with accessing computing resources – such as server, storage space and applications – from a secure data centre with complete self service capabilities is appealing to organisations that are struggling to control costs or cope with rapidly changing business needs.
Cloud Services represents a significant shift from the traditional client-server computing model where infrastructure is distributed and made available to users working across multiple locations. In fact, it more closely resembles the early days of computing when technology resources were deployed from a mainframe system at a central location. Users were oblivious to how services were delivered or which hardware and software platforms were used.
These days, however, organisations are engaging managed service providers, which own and operate data centres, to deliver server capacity and applications over high-speed broadband links. Cloud computing takes this concept one step further by making a set of predefined services, delivered from large, centralised computing and storage systems, available to customers ‘out of the box’.
Cloud computing is a ‘utility’ computing model where customers simply select how much computing power they need and when they need it. They can increase hardware capacity with business demand, more easily meet regulatory and compliance obligations, set services levels to match business requirements and avoid unnecessary capital expenditure.
However, IT departments may be reluctant to embrace cloud computing because of their doubts about:
- Security – through concerns of safety to put data outside the corporate firewall and how do I control it once it’s out there?
- Border Controls - with concerns on how to ensure the company’s data stays in the right place and within the legal jurisdiction necessary.
- Lock-in – raising questions about the ability to move a company’s data and applications in the need to switch providers at any time.
- Licence Options – questioning whether a business can use its current licences or what licences will work in a Cloud?
To explain the benefit potential of cloud computing, it is useful to outline a definition. Within Fujitsu, we describe cloud as being the consumption of:
- Infrastructure – that is, on-demand infrastructure estate delivering compute, storage and infrastructure applications. This includes pay per use, providing the option to be billed for what is provisioned and consumed, thereby allowing for predictable and controlled costs that match the resources of the business.
- Application – which is predominantly the provision of an application through a pay per use or subscription based model. This includes Self Service, which enables a business to retain control and with the ability to govern IT services in real time with no involvement from the provider.
- Activity – the ability to subscribe to a business process or function as an activity. For example, Fujitsu is currently working with a customer to provide this service for large volume mailing services. Essentially delivering a platform which is able to respond to the dynamic shifts in business demand ensuring supply is equally coordinated up or down.
- Content – essentially, the provision of content services which can be subscribed to from an application or a platform. The best known consumer example of this is probably iTunes and the ability for that application to access a pool of content be it Music, Movies or Audio Books.
Fujitsu has invested more than $1 billion USD into Cloud computing on a global scale, with significant investment into the design and implementation of a local Cloud environment to meet the data sovereignty requirements of the domestic marketplace, particularly those of the Financial Services and Government sectors.
Furthermore, Fujitsu’s cloud services operate from numerous wholly-owned, environmentally-friendly Australian data centres, so customers gain additional security to move to the cloud from knowing where their applications and data are stored, reducing concerns around data governance and giving them additional options re disaster recovery.
Fujitsu is committed to Cloud Services in the local region, and our current Cloud environment has already proven success in production for our local customers.
To find out more about Fujitsu’s Cloud Services, visit http://www.fujitsu.com/au/services/infrastructure-services/cloud/index.html
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’.