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Make Your Network Ready for AI
The mania over Artificial Intelligence may seem overblown, but you’ll likely see more demands on your network bandwidth.

By: John Shepler

We may be nearing the end of the age of person to person communications, or at least human communication dominating the use of telecom resources. The decline began when computers started using our phone lines to exchange data. It’s only accelerated since nearly all computers are now connected to the Internet at broadband speeds. Even so, much of that computer activity is in the service of people accessing websites, messaging and sending email, posting on social media, watching videos, backing up their files and doing their jobs. Not for long. Pretty soon machines will cut us out of the loop and simply talk among themselves. 

Beware the Internet of Things. Join the fun!The Rise of Artificial Intelligence
The scary thing about artificial intelligence, or AI, is how insidious it is. It’s actually been creeping in for decades, probably since the start of the computer age. There’s a lot of AI in search engines, although we may not think of it that way. Most software, in fact, has been adding analytical and decision making capability deep under the hood. You may not be specifically asked your preferences, but that doesn’t mean the program isn’t figuring things out or selecting what information to display and how. 

More recently we’ve seen an explosion of “chat bots”, intelligent assistants such as Siri and Alexa, and some quirky writing and photo capabilities in ChatGPT. In fact, it’s the last one that has fueled an explosion of interest and investment in what is called Generative AI, the tech that “creates” all that new content at the push of a button.

NVIDIA can’t make big enough processors on a large enough scale to sate the demand. Data centers are expanding to host more and more servers and new centers are rapidly under construction. One big worry is where all the energy is going to come from to feed the exponentially demanding power-hungry AI processes. Some data centers are being built right next to power plants to grab and many megawatts as they can.

How Nuts is This Going to Get?
One might suspect that we’re in an AI mania combined with a speculative bubble in anticipation that artificial intelligence will render pitiful human capabilities and their jobs obsolete in the matter of a few years… or less. The computer age has certainly eliminated or greatly reduced some roles, like telephone operators and adding machine clerks (human computers), but added new ones as fast or faster. The new AI fever sees the elimination of writers, graphic artists, analysts, software coders, customer service representatives and even law clerks as imminent. 

Not so fast. The chat bots I’ve dealt with are complete simpletons that can’t solve much of any real problem. The writing is tedious. The artwork is artificial at best, and inane at worst (how many extra fingers can you add to a person’s hand?). Self driving trucks? Look out when they come barreling around a curve during an ice storm.

I suspect the AI crazy has hyped up expectations far beyond what is really going to work anytime soon. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a real germ of innovation underway. One example is the “Internet of Things” that is being touted as the real driver of 5G wireless. Better, faster, cheaper and smaller electronics makes it possible to add both processing and communications to any device. That can be any tool, any monitor, any control system, and most products. It is only logical that these “things” will communicate with other “things”, including computer systems, without our constant knowledge or intervention. The more of these “robots” that are deployed, the more sophisticated the software needed to keep them employed efficiently. 

What to Likely Expect
Yes, technology marches on in the name of progress. We’re not going back to living in mud huts or slaving in dingy factories, and the nature of what we do at work will continue to evolve. The increase in productivity should improve our standard of living if we’re smart about it as a society. At any rate, the demands on technical infrastructure are surely going to accelerate. 

You can expect more devices on every network, talking faster and demanding faster results. The “cloud” may become an “overcast.” Both fiber optic and wireless bandwidth requirements will move up another order of magnitude or more. A 100 Mbps connection may have been plenty not long ago. Now we clamor for a Gigabit line, with 10 Gbps an emerging business standard. How long before 100 Gbps is routine and 1 Tbps starts looking like a requirement? Within the data center, this could be tomorrow. For access, maybe the day after tomorrow. 

How about your business? Are new tools, processes and devices straining the capability of your data center or WAN network? We can help. Get pricing and support on bandwidth and hosting for your current and future needs right now, before those needs become a crisis. 

Note: This article was not generated by any AI. It was written by one human (myself) who only worries about the machines scraping the Internet and regurgitating copyrighted material far and wide without any thought of compensation to the author, a real and present danger. 

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