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Korea Telecom Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu speaks at ETH Zurich

Korea Telecom Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu speaks at ETH Zurich

Posted October. 25, 2019 07:43,   

Updated October. 25, 2019 07:43


About 400 students burst into laughter when Korea Telecom (KT) Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu, 66, said “This isn’t a Hollywood movie” in his lecture at the main building of ETH Zurich at 11 a.m. on Tuesday (local time). But they soon became serious as he started elaborating more on the fifth generation (5G) technology that enabled what they saw on the screen - drones scanning a large fire that broke out at the city center and sending the information to firefighters wearing AR goggles and 5G-connected telemedicine.

The theme of his speech was “5G – Innovation for Prosperity.” ETH Zurich is a prestigious university that has produced 21 Nobel Prize winners including Albert Einstein who published the theory of relativity. The school has organized lecture series with renowned global speakers since 2014, and Hwang is the first Asian speaker.

He said the biggest opportunity arose when he predicted future trends by asking himself what technology would define the next decade and came up with new and different technologies. He then gave a rundown on his 30-year career from “Hwang’s law,” which suggests the density of the top-of-the-line memory chips doubles every 12 months to the process of developing semi-conductors to his relationship with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Hwang also showed video clips to explain how 5G technology is being applied to various areas including AI autonomous vehicles rather than listing all the benefits 5G has to offer. He was bombarded with questions from students. When a student raised concerns about the health risk of 5G radio waves, he replied, “The World Health Organization (WHO) studied the danger posed by 5G radio waves but could not prove it.”

Hwang concluded the speech emphasizing the importance of challenging the status quo. “You will soon be either my partners or competitors. I hope you will resolve social issues by utilizing science and technology,” he said. “We cannot predict the future, but we can create it.” The students gave him a standing ovation. “His lecture made me think of the social values technology can create,” said Luca, 20, a student at ETH Zurich.

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com