“The quantum revolution is years away, not decades away”
Fujitsu’s Vivek Mahajan believes that while AI will play a major role in the future of technology, it’s quantum computers that will really be the game changer.
Vivek Mahajan is the Global Chief Technology Officer of Japanese IT company Fujitsu, with extensive previous experience working at leading multinationals such as General Electric, Oracle Corporation and IBM.
Mahajan joined Fujitsu in July 2021, where he aims to lead a strategy focused on new technology breakthroughs and business growth centered on five key technology areas: Computing, Networks, AI, Data Security and “converging technologies,” which he says focus on the intersection of technology and human behavior and the social sciences.
“AI offers many benefits, but it can also be potentially ‘tricked’
– VIVEK MAHAJAN
What are the biggest challenges you face in today’s IT landscape?
From my perspective as a CTO, I see the disparity and lag in the introduction of digital technologies in many countries as one of the main challenges facing IT today. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the problems posed by this digital divide.
One way to help bridge the gap and accelerate the introduction of digital more equitably around the world will be to align the efforts of private and public sector actors.
In Japan, where I am based, the recently created digital agency has a powerful “control tower” function, playing a central role in policies aimed at achieving a society in which the benefits of digital technologies can be felt in the people’s daily lives.
Examples include the integration of national and local government systems, the introduction of the individually numbered card for the use of online banking and public services, and the digitization of administrative procedures and education.
Fujitsu, along with other tech companies, will need to contribute their expertise and tech talents to support the digital agency’s policies to drive Japan’s digital transformation, which will prove vital to its ability to compete in the arena. world.
The issues are clear. In its Digital Cliff 2025 report, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry warned that the country could face economic losses exceeding $100 billion per year after 2025 if shortages of talent and critical IT investments persist.
Countries around the world are facing similar challenges, but I like to think that this moment also presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to reinvent society for the better.
What do you think of digital transformation?
One of the most important ways to accelerate industry-wide digital transformation is to continue to move from on-premises computing to cloud computing to help customers upgrade and enhance their systems to promote digital transformation (DX).
By accelerating the deployment of cloud-based services by default, I am confident that we can catch up relatively quickly in the adoption of digital technology in many sectors.
As for how we approach this, I like to think that Fujitsu is setting its own example. Since October 2020, we have embarked on a company-wide DX project, “Fujitra”, which aims to strengthen our competitiveness in the digital age.
The Fujitra project represents part of an approximately $1 billion investment in our own transformation and focuses on eliminating old and inefficient processes and adopting better business processes, organizations and culture. business, as well as products, services and business models that drive digital transformation and integrate feedback. from customers and employees.
I think this not only benefits our own business, but also demonstrates to potential customers the kind of value we can provide by guiding them through their own DX journey.
What are your thoughts on how sustainability can be approached from an IT perspective?
Sustainability is not just a corporate goal, but it is quickly becoming one of the most pressing global issues facing us all. We must always remain aware of the very real limits of our planet in our business activities and work together to build a resilient society where no one is left behind.
To ensure true sustainability, it is becoming clear that innovation will have to play a bigger role than ever.
As CTO, I want Fujitsu to leverage its expertise and resources to combine these technologies to create solutions to sustainability challenges, such as mitigating the impacts of climate change by predicting weather events. violent with AI, reducing carbon emissions in the global supply chain with quantum algorithms, or leveraging social science data to develop technology that makes cities safer and more livable.
We should also encourage and expand collaboration with other technology leaders wherever possible, whether with universities, research institutes, governments or other companies. This will allow us to unlock new possibilities to drive and accelerate innovation in the real world.
What big tech trends do you think are changing the world and your industry in particular?
Personally, I believe that quantum computers, which will greatly accelerate the process of discovery in many fields, represent one of the most exciting technological frontiers in terms of transformative potential. Barriers remain, but I believe the quantum revolution is years away, not decades away.
In general, new discoveries come from a cyclical process of observing problems, examining existing knowledge, hypotheses, testing in the laboratory or in the field, and verifying the results.
This process is still time consuming and involves a lot of trial and error. I believe that in the near future the process of discovery will continue much faster in the digital space where we can combine human power with smart technologies.
Although I believe that rapid advancements in computing and AI will continue to play an important role in this trend, quantum computers are game changers and Fujitsu is actively promoting R&D in this area.
As quantum computers can handle extremely large data sets, they can overcome the limitations of conventional computers to solve even the most complex problems, such as quantum mechanical simulations.
What do you think of how we can address the security challenges your industry is currently facing?
Some of the most significant safety and ethical challenges we face today relate to AI. Currently, the use of algorithms and machine learning is widespread and affects our lives in many ways.
This will probably accelerate in the future and will require transparency, a sense of responsibility and vigilance against possible abuses. Current use cases for AI include improving public safety through video data analysis, controlling product quality through anomaly detection, product recommendations, or even driving autonomous.
AI offers many benefits, but it can also be potentially “cheated” or compromised. Adding special noises to video data, for example, can cause AI to misidentify people or mistakenly detect certain actions, and confidential information in training data for algorithms is still vulnerable to bad actors in many cases. Attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and there is clearly an urgent need for countermeasures.
As part of our efforts to combat this threat, Fujitsu is strengthening cooperation with universities around the world to accelerate AI security research.
Last year, Fujitsu established a research center at Ben-Gurion University in Israel and started joint research. I’m excited about the work we’re doing with this team, and we’re currently running verification tests to simulate and research threats to AI and machine learning models, which will help us develop technologies to counter these vulnerabilities.
In this way, we will continue to improve and strengthen the security of AI systems and software to address current and future security issues related to AI technologies.
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