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AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson Imagines a Future Without Screens

Wake me when I can get the neural implant.
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Illustration by Daniel Long.

Yesterday Randall Stephenson was interviewed onstage by Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein at the spring luncheon of the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. (I was not invited.) As he waved around an iPhone, he said:

We carry around these devices and they’re bigger than they should be, because there’s a lot of computing in here, there’s a lot of storage in here. When you get to 5G, all that computing, all that storage goes away — it’s back in the network. These form factors, some would say they shrink.

I say they go away. It is conceivable that we’re going to be moving into a world without screens, a world where this [points to his glasses] is your screen. You don’t need any more of a form factor than this, once the computing and storage requirements move out and into the network. And guys like you [waving to the TV cameras in the back] can think very differently about how you deliver your content to your customers. It becomes a delivery without screens. It’s just a totally different experience.

Put it all in the network. Yeah, can’t see how that could possibly go wrong.

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