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A classical method will help deliver the latest hi-tech

Story by
Dr Walter Weigel

Dr Walter Weigel

Vice-President of the Huawei European Research Institute (ERI)

We have a universal method to help us choose the right way for the future - let’s use it when assessing technology partnerships

What’s the key to unlocking global growth? This is not a question of opinion: the figures are quite clear. The average return on digital investments is a staggering 6.7 times higher than for non-digital ones.

Today’s leading companies in the digital domain have a few things in common: they have invested heavily in digital assets, embraced digital services and are now earning the rewards of this digital ‘spillover’ effect. The way towards the global digital economy will be led by those who overcome obstacles to technology adoption, who create environments that incentivise investment and who welcome participation and innovation.

Ironically, these facts and figures are taken from a September 2017 report by Huawei and Oxford Economics. The university recently announced its decision to no longer accept participation and innovation in the form of research grants or donations from Huawei.

The report sets out different scenarios for our digital future. The high-digitisation scenario foresees the biggest boost to the global GDP in 2025 – US$1.7 trillion, the equivalent of putting an extra US$500 per year in the pockets of every working-age member of the global population. The report stresses, however, that to achieve this, economies need to maintain an aggressive pace of digital investment and work together to deliver a strong digital strategy. It recommends opening the doors to the digital economy - to as wide a pool of individuals and companies as possible.

Let’s apply a scientific method when making decisions about science

Sixteen months on, where do we stand today? Oxford University based its decision to shut its doors on “public concerns”. Academic freedom is usually defined as the freedom of teachers and students to pursue research without unreasonable interference by external pressure. So how do we define ‘unreasonable’?

At Huawei, we take the stance that such decisions should be fact-based. This simply amounts to applying the universally-recognised scientific method to decisions about science – an approach any scientist should agree with. Applied since the 17th Century, it involves validating, rejecting or adapting hypotheses following systematic observation, fact-gathering, testing and analysis.

Huawei’s track record and the performance, quality and security of our products, proven across more than 170 markets and trusted by over 500 operator customers, have withstood such scrutiny at all times.

Our numerous collaborations with universities are driven by the shared objective of the advancement of science, technology and industry. To achieve growth and prosperity, and improve lives through scientific progress, universities and businesses across the globe need to work hand in hand.

The conveniences of modern life we enjoy today are the result of centuries of research and progress. Advances in fields such as AI, 5G, robotics and the IoT hold the promise of delivering more and faster progress, to more people, in more places. However, we can only deliver on this promise if we step up investment, collaboration and openness. These should not be based on blind trust, but on the shared objective of building the safest possible products together and maximising benefits for all. 

The principles of science provide directions on how to get there.