Lost In Maui: Unraveling The Future Of AI At Qualcomm’s Tech Summit


I’m traveling to see how computing will develop in the future. But now I have to get a butterfly to land on a stick drenched in nectar. I gently encourage a butterfly to cling on the stick, feeling as though I’m invading their area, but the caregivers reassure us that it’s okay. As we fight to get our butterfly partners, one of our group’s experts asks us in passing about the introduction of our product. We all lack the energy to stress that this is not our launch; we are here to cover and discuss it, so there’s a moment of silence. Thankfully, a favorable reaction comes from someone, saying, “It’s going great.” I manage to persuade a butterfly to cling after multiple tries. I proudly say, “Look, I got one!” to the group. The awkward pause that follows makes me wonder what will happen next.

Cristiano Amon, the CEO of Qualcomm, enters the stage at Snapdragon Summit 2023 and delivers his keynote with his customary fervor. Every year, the launch of the upcoming flagship chip in Hawaii brings industry partners, analysts, and the press together for an unforgettable experience. It’s a sweaty affair due to the mismatch between the tropical weather and the mostly indoor-oriented attendance, so I have to do some last-minute laundry. Even if it’s uncomfortable, the fusion of tech demonstrations at several stations with traditional Hawaiian culture—which includes a butterfly encounter—adds a special touch. It’s hard to see how handling butterflies in the sweltering sun relates to mobile computers in the future. The demonstrations, which incorporate Hawaiian culture, range from enlightening to confusing. Eventually, the guides teach us how to delicately hold a closed butterfly’s wings between two fingers, and then we release the butterflies collectively, sending out wishes. Heading over to a tech demo station, I see something I’ve been waiting for: generative photo expansion enabled by the recently unveiled Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 from Qualcomm. I pinch and zoom in on an image, watching as generative AI quickly draws borders. The outcomes of the demo range from amazing to bizarre, which reflects the larger idea of this week’s generative AI vision. Throughout the summit, Qualcomm presents a positive vision of how on-device AI can transform mobile computing by offering an experience that is more approachable and natural. But when potential abuse and obnoxious AI possibilities are recognized, doubts start to surface. The examples this week highlight generative AI’s both remarkable and unperfected features.

AI that is “generative” and “on-device” is the major change. Local AI model execution speeds up processing and improves user experience. Making on-device AI more time-saving, intuitive, and personalized is the aim. Senior vice president of technology strategy at Qualcomm, Durga Malladi, sees AI as a tool that may make devices easier to use and more user-centric.

Nonetheless, Honor’s CEO, George Zhao, proposes a cooperative strategy in which cloud-based language models and on-device AI work together to meet certain technological constraints. Zhao highlights the privacy benefits of on-device AI and its function as a useful tool as opposed to a force that invades data. According to Qualcomm and Honor, AI has a bright but uncertain future. Even though the week was jam-packed with tech demos and keynote speeches, the experiences in Maui emphasize the importance of human connections above breakthroughs in AI. The IT corporations lay the groundwork, but software developers must define the user experience if they are to succeed in the future. The butterfly is now perched atop the rod; only time will tell what happens next.

Image: Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon presented his keynote speech with all of his usual vigor (collected)

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