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Alibaba emerging tech trend analysis: AI, photonic chips, renewables

silicon photonic chip cyprus mail

More and more cutting-edge technologies are finding their way to industrial applications, Alibaba’s Damo Academy, set up in 2017 to find solutions to global challenges through scientific and technological research and innovation, said in a report released earlier this month analysing and examining emerging technology trends.

“This lowers the threshold for people and industries to access the latest technologies and further drives innovation,” president of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence and head of the Damo Academy Jeff Zhang said.

The report bundles artificial intelligence (AI) for science, scalable AI models, and silicon photonic chips together, describing them as having the capacity to redefine paradigms.

Silicon photonic chips leverage silicon as an optical medium to circumvent the looming limitations of Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles approximately every two years, while at the same time the cost of computers is halved.

Rather than electrons, photonic chips, as their name suggests, use photons to transmit data, potentially allowing for higher computing density and increased energy efficiency.

“Silicon photonic chips need to converge with mature electronic chip technologies, and utilise advanced manufacturing processes and modular technologies of the electronic chip industry,” the report explained.

“The silicon photonics technology that combines the advantages of both photonics and electronics will shape the future of the semiconductor industry,” it added.

Regarding the application of AI in scientific research, the report says the advancements in this field have allowed scientists to simulate high-cost and complicated experiments to verify or disprove their hypotheses.

Effectively, the cost-cutting gained here allows for the saved amount to be allocated elsewhere, while also expediting segments of each respective research process.

“For example, digital nuclear reactors for nuclear energy experiments reduce experimental costs, improve safety, and reduce nuclear wastes,” the paper said, adding that “in recent years, AI has also been used to discover and define fundamental scientific laws”.

Finally, on the issue of renewable energy, the use of artificial intelligence has facilitated the safe and reliable integration of renewables into the power grid, negating risks, offsetting low energy utilisation rates, as well as overcoming the obstacle of excess energy storage.

The application of AI in the industry is pivotal in improving the efficiency and automation of electric power systems, maximising resource usage and stability, the report said, explaining that this will facilitate the goal of carbon neutrality.

“In the next three years, AI is expected to pave the way for the integration of renewable energy sources into the power grid and contribute to the safe, efficient, and reliable operation of the power grid,” it added.

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