Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years

Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists

Joseph Reger, Fujitsu cto, with his 3D-printed doppelganger

Fujitsu’s CTO slapped down the net neutrality dogmatists yesterday, saying the flood of data due to the emergence of the internet of things meant society would force a new pricing model.

Joseph Reger, Fujitsu cto, with his 3D-printed doppelganger

Joseph Reger, Fujitsu CTO, with his 3D-printed replica

Joseph Reger told a crowd of journalists at Fujitsu Forum that entertainment devices were swallowing ever more bandwidth, while machine-to-machine communications were generating more data, and connected vehicles were on the horizon.

Reger said: “We have to redefine what net neutrality means.

“If net neutrality means that every service and every connection needs to have the same priority all the time, then I think we are running into a problem.”

But, he continued, if the lack of network neutrality “means that the network provider decides arbitrarily to who he is going to give precedence and he’s going to make money on that, that’s a different matter.”

"Certain services might need to have a priority," he continued. "But that you go out and just make a profit according to your own will, that is something that needs to be discussed.”

“Society has to decide if certain developments are acceptable or not,” he concluded.

Reger’s stance could be construed as entirely academic, were it not for the fact that Fujitsu’s kit underpins around 40 per cent of the UK’s broadband network.

Society, ethics and legislation also came into play when it came to the rise of autonomous cars and other autonomous systems, Reger said. Developers of autonomous systems could not be expected to cover every eventuality with rules-based approaches common in software development: “The system has to guess.”

But how would it be expected to make a decision when two cars were about to hit each other on a mountain road, with one inevitably going over the edge? If one has more occupants, including children, should the other vehicle sacrifice itself, along with its driver?

What if one of the vehicles was a motorcycle, and the rider wasn’t wearing a helmet? “Is the car allowed to punish him?” Reger pondered.

This was where developers were going to have to take a rare lead from ethicists and accept legislation and develop frameworks rather than rules-based systems: “We are quite a bit far away from those systems yet.”

Reger also pondered the impact of 3D printing, which is part of the Industry 4.0 zeitgeist being explored in Germany. He said 3D printing genuinely offered the prospect of moving manufacturing of some products closer to their markets.

“The product is now a bunch of data…which can be downloaded to a place. You can print things that you cannot mill, you cannot shape you cannot press, you cannot cut around because of the geometrical nature of it.”

He then produced an action figure-sized model of himself produced by a Munich firm that scans individuals and produces their own personalised action figures.

While this was just a “toy”, said Reger, “in five years it will be life sized. In 10 years, it will walk and talk. In 15 years, it will be doing the CTO’s mind session.”

That’s entirely possible. But while 3D renditions of C-level execs may supplant their meat-based counterparts, the machines will only have won when they can do a convincing best man's speech. ®

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