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2023 in review: Big AI meets big telecom

How the telecom industry handles AI in the year ahead will determine its longevity. Will it fade with the likes of dot-coms, hair bands and Tupperware parties?

Kelsey Ziser

December 18, 2023

3 Min Read
AI Learning and Artificial Intelligence Concept
(Source: Pitinan Piyavatin/Alamy Stock Photo)

AI infiltrated the public zeitgeist this year, propelled into the limelight by generative AI (genAI) tools such as ChatGPT. Using AI to generate images, artwork and essays (perhaps to the frustration of college professors) is certainly entertaining, but if service providers and enterprises can't unlock the ROI of AI, many applications amount to little more than a neat parlor trick.

"AI-washing is rife as organizations that had previously shown no serious interest in artificial intelligence – which, strictly speaking, does not even exist – suddenly dredge up an AI strategy from nowhere," reported Light Reading's Iain Morris.

Despite the nonstop buzz about AI, an Omdia survey showed that only 21% of service providers are currently using genAI. However, networking giant Cisco is claiming more than $500 million in orders for its "AI Ethernet fabrics."

In addition to concerns over revenue generation from AI models are challenges around data privacy and what constitutes responsible or ethical AI. At the risk of oversimplification, AI models are only as strong as the accuracy of the underlying data. Large language models can also be heavily influenced by human biases.

Plus, there's a lack of industry standards for AI contracts with customers, said Richard Munro, director, office of the CTO for VMware, at the VMware Explore event this year.

Related:Be afraid – ChatGPT has caught the eye of telecom

The reason for "much of the general wariness about ChatGPT and related models is the phenomenon of 'hallucinations.' Put simply, ChatGPT has been shown in countless examples to provide wrong information…" wrote Morris.

Despite uncertainties around standards for AI, its profitability and accuracy, organizations are charging ahead with sizable investments in the technology. Service providers are dipping their toes in the water – Vodafone teamed up with Microsoft on trialing genAI applications for chatbots, supply chain management and the like.

How the telecom industry handles AI in the year ahead will determine whether it has longevity or fades with the likes of dot-coms, hair bands and Tupperware parties.

Here's a look back at some of Light Reading's AI coverage in 2023:

Related:Amdocs tempts telcos with generative AI support

About the Author(s)

Kelsey Ziser

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Kelsey is a senior editor at Light Reading, co-host of the Light Reading podcast, and host of the "What's the story?" podcast.

Her interest in the telecom world started with a PR position at Connect2 Communications, which led to a communications role at the FREEDM Systems Center, a smart grid research lab at N.C. State University. There, she orchestrated their webinar program across college campuses and covered research projects such as the center's smart solid-state transformer.

Kelsey enjoys reading four (or 12) books at once, watching movies about space travel, crafting and (hoarding) houseplants.

Kelsey is based in Raleigh, N.C.

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