AI takes centre stage as Mobile World Congress Shanghai kicks off


  • TECH
  • Thursday, 27 Jun 2024

People walk past a Huawei booth at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Shanghai on June 26, 2024. — AFP

From phones that can detect deepfake scams to autonomous intelligent vehicles, the disruptive potential of artificial intelligence took centre stage as Mobile World Congress Shanghai kicked off June 26.

The jampacked connectivity industry conference saw some of China's biggest companies gather to showcase their latest products and visions for an AI-driven future.

Smart device brand Honor on Wednesday unveiled technology it said could detect deepfake scam calls and warn the phone's owner in real-time.

Deepfake scam calls – where fraudsters manipulate images, sound or video of a real person as part of their con – have been flagged as a growing risk as generative AI use becomes more prevalent.

In February, it was revealed that a Hong Kong finance worker had transferred US$26mil to fraudsters who presented themselves as his colleagues on a video call.

In an Honor demo video, a man used a convincing AI filter to alter his appearance to make a video call, before a pop-up message on the victim's phone appeared warning it was likely a face swap.

The software, which the company says will be available on its devices this year, uses AI to analyse elements like eye contact or lighting frame by frame, "to identify flaws that are imperceptible to the human eyes" in around three seconds.

Honor's CEO George Zhao told an audience that he believed on-device AI "has the potential to empower users" and address the concerns around authenticity that many have raised about AI.

Whatever the inherent risks, high-profile speakers made clear they thought the AI revolution was unstoppable.

"AI needs to be omnipotent, it needs to be everywhere," said Huawei's Executive Director of the Board, David Wang.

He pointed out that the continued success and expansion of AI depended on telecom networks – particularly 5G and its successors – keeping pace.

Ensuring that AI's associated infrastructure continued to develop too was a point made by other delegates.

As well as networks, another issue, said one exhibitor, was processing power and heat.

"One of the challenges that AI has is how do you get all that processing (energy) on devices when the consumer wants them smaller and smaller," said Sue Ryan, vice president of marketing at Frore Systems.

The company's solution is AirJet, a cooling device in the form of chips, the thinnest of which is 2.5mm.

While AI has been used in the background of much of the connectivity sector for years, "it really feels like we've moved from the passenger seat to the driver seat", Lara Dewar from organisers GSMA told attendees.

For some exhibitors that was quite literal, with multiple AI-using cars on display as the Internet of Things spreads further into the auto sector.

"There is no doubt in my mind that AI... will reshape our lives and businesses as we know them," said Dewar. – AFP

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