Restyling everyday life with cloud computing

Mirror Fung

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A leading authority on computer technology discussed how cloud computing will impact future generations at a talk at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) on 10 November.

Dr Barry Lam, Founder and Chairman of Quanta Computer Group, a leading notebook computer manufacturer in the world, was speaking at the City University Distinguished Lecture Series. His talk was titled “Cloud Computing Enables Digital Knowledge Economy”.

Dr Lam said the “virtual” revolution that took place over the past two decades dramatically altered ways of learning, interaction and social integration, but said cloud computing will usher in a new information society.

“Cloud computing is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and virtualised resources are provided as a service over the internet,” he said, adding that the system will be faster, simpler and cheaper to use than current online services.

One of the major beneficiaries will be the digital knowledge economy. “We need citizens, society and government working together to create a digital knowledge economy,” Dr Lam said.

In a digital knowledge society, citizens should be encouraged to receive IT training. In Britain, IT capability was recently added as the fourth compulsory course in primary schools, Dr Lam pointed out.

Availability means bandwidth, Dr Lam asserted. “There should be at least 20 MB to each person wirelessly. Today we only get 2 MB by fixed lines,” he said. “The cost of the service has to be very low and the quality of service must be developed by the country and the service providers.”

In addition, the content available has to be informative and educationally beneficial because in the next 10 years children will be learning interactively from cloud computing, Dr Lam added. In the United States, China and Europe, they are making laws to enable citizens to have a certain degree of rights in this area, Dr Lam said.

Media, commerce, learning, health care and environment control will be changed by cloud computing, too. For instance, in the health care sector, Dr Lam said, “Preventive care can be easily done by cloud computing. Real time monitoring of the body is also possible through sensors.”

The government plays an important role in the development of digital economy, Dr Lam continued, in terms of citizen-centric social services, energy and environment control, traffic control and telecommunications, public safety and security, national finance and taxation. It should also provide a smart education at a very low cost.

“Cloud computing can help people at the bottom of the pyramid,” Dr Lam said. “Through digital sharing, there will be more balance in society; through service sharing, there will be more benefits to society, as one doctor can attend to hundreds of patients; and through cultural sharing, we will be more brilliant. This information revolution can help build a beautiful new world.”

The lecture was moderated by Professor Horace Ip Ho-shing, Acting Vice-President (Research & Technology). Professor Way Kuo, University President, introduced the speaker.

Other VIP guests included Mr Raymond Or Ching-fai, Deputy Council Chairman, Professor Arthur Ellis, University Provost, Professor Roderick Wong Sue-cheun, Vice-President (Development & External Relation), Professor Paul Lam Kwan-sing, Vice-President (Student Affairs), Professor Julia Tao Lai Po-wah, Chief-of-Staff, Mr Gabriel Chan Sai-man, Chief Administration Officer, and Mr John Dockerill, Secretary to Council.

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