It took millions of years for the
human civilization to evolve into the stage that we are in now. However, the
accelerating acceleration of change over recent years has been phenomenal.
Trends suggest faster and more profound changes in the future. The question of
beating the Moore's Law is not any more confined to the field of computer
science. A host of technologies such as Additive Manufacturing, 3D printing,
Quantum Computing, artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, virtual and
augmented reality, alternative energy systems, biotechnology and digital
medicine are growing rapidly. Such technologies are collectively referred to as
Tremendous progress is in sight
in terms of hyper-connecting the world, solar/ renewables being cheaper than
coal, promising an end of cancer as a disease with no cure, and extending human
life. Stem cells research has opened up new frontiers in medical science,
Autonomous Vehicles, Drones, and Flying Cars etc. are here to disrupt the
mobility. Artificial Intelligence and robotics are promising to challenge the
human mind in future. Commercial Space Exploration is no longer a fiction.
In such an era of rapid and
disruptive changes, many question arise: will these technological changes be
accompanied by equally profound economic, social and cultural changes? Will
technology destroy jobs at a faster rate than the rate of creation of jobs?
Will future governments be forced to fork out Universal Basic Income? How
education could be redefined with artificial intelligence, big data, augmented
reality and personalized learning pathways? Are conventional manufacturing
plants under threat with the advent of additive manufacturing? What will be the
impact on skills required? After all these changes, people-to-people communication
and socio-economic activities remain the same?
These issues become more
complicated with a few far more mind-boggling predictions about the future.
Some futurists even predict that eventually technology will enable one to copy
his/her brain onto a computer! Scientists have talked about Technological
Singularity, a term used to describe the change that would occur when humans,
technology and artificial intelligence would intersect to such an extent that
we are incapable of comprehending or predicting what the new race would be
If the proponents of
Transhumanism are to be believed, the human species in its current form is just
at the early stage of its development, and does not represent its final
evolution!. Some futurists believe that the humans will be able to modify their
biology to attain superintelligence; some others forecast that enhanced
interface between humans and much improved artificial intelligence systems will
eliminate the distinction between man and machine.
The implications of Exponential
Technologies cannot be understood by looking at the individual parts only.
Their interaction and combination in innovative ways may amplify their
disruptive potential. Hence, it is necessary to envision such interactions.
Co-existence of human beings as efficient as machines and machines with
cognitive abilities like humans may be possible in future.
certainly cannot remain insulated from the impact of Exponential Technologies,
and there is substantial uncertainty about how intensely and how soon the
impacts will be felt. Society in general and policymakers in particular need to
be prepared for a range of potential outcomes. This calls for continued engagement
between government, industry, academia, technical and policy experts, and of
course, public at large. With an eye on this, TIFAC dedicates its 30th
Foundation Day on 10th February 2017, to crystal-gaze on Exponential
Technologies, and the future of human species. A daylong event is to be held on
the subject on this day at the Seminar Hall, IIT Delhi (from 9:00
am onwards). People can register to confirm their participation at http://tinyurl.com/TIFACDay2017 to participate
in this event.
The event will feature
expositions from TIFAC and select exhibitors providing a snapshot of
state-of-the-art and emerging trends. Eminent experts will share their viewpoints
on what the Exponential Technologies hold for the future generations. The event
will also have a focus on young students, who will not only get enlightened
about the prospective future, but also have opportunity to share their
perspectives. It is high time for a debate on Exponential Technologies, which
are likely to have a profound impact on the human species, and TIFAC sets it in
motion on its Foundation Day.