No One Knows Exactly What’s Coming—yet we can spot in advance a lot of the directions we are headed. And we can also see why those directions are potentially hugely positive for humanity—to be welcomed, rather than feared. It is important, therefore, to address the rising fear from many adults that our technology-filled future will somehow be bad—or worse than today or the past. That is a perspective with which I strongly disagree.
‘For the very first time in human history, a Great Grand Event happened––the grand event of ‘Being interconnected’ with each other. Due to this event today, we are all connected, the way we were never connected before. For all of us it is the biggest event in the history of the human being––and we are all interconnected with each other because of this transformation in the world which is—DIGITAL SHIFT.’
Shakti Singh is a young man in his later half of mid-twenties who lives in a small village of Chohtan block in the district of Barmer in Rajasthan State of India. Barmer, which is arid, a desert, is also one of the largest districts of India besides being highly under developed. People in this district eke out their lives with enormous amount of difficulties.
Quickly changing business landscapes driven by technological trends already in motion are predicted to transform our lives in the coming years. From greater automation of daily chores, robo-advisories, virtual reality at homes to an avalanche of e-commerce activities and the rise of an AI-based shared economy, the world around us is metamorphosing in unfathomable ways.
Sunil Unny Guptan writes extensively about a topic that probably has not been explored much or has been written down in the form of short articles till now. The book begins with a foreword by C Parthasarathy, Chairman and MD, Karvy Group, who recalls his interactions with Dr. Sunil Guptan, his mentor, with utmost fondness.
Digital Transformation: Build Your Organization’s Future for the Innovation Age by Lindsay Herbert is a practical guide for people, irrespective of rank, position, seniority and authority, who would like to see their respective organizations transform themselves by embracing the challenges which the ubiquitous and constant churning and presence of digitalization has brought upon the modern-day businesses.
This compelling book discusses the ‘seductions, limits and contradictions’ of the entrepreneurial movement in India. Entrepreneurship is being shaped as a movement that embraces creative freedom, business value, and nation building. Examples and case studies are building up of how techies, designers, development specialists, and business professionals can create entrepreneurial ventures for socio-economic uplift.
Privacy has emerged as the most prized possession in the ‘Information Age’. Technology giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon are being taken to task by the governments over the issue. But the design and motivation of the relationship evolving between social media platforms and users lead us to the grim conclusion that perhaps privacy is a holy grail, the quest of which will lead us to the darkest alleys of misgivings.
The book’s cover has appreciative lines by Bill Gates, who–as the cliché goes—needs no introduction, and Lawrence Freedman, who may need an introduction only for those from fields other than strategic studies, being the doyen of the field. Since Gates knows technology and Freedman focuses on war, their recommendation places the book on the frontline of technology and war.
Shivam Shankar Singh’s How to Win an Indian Election is an insider’s candid narrative of how political parties leverage voters’ data and digital technologies for political campaigning. Singh headed data analytics and campaigns for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the Manipur and Tripura Legislative Assembly elections under the guidance of the party’s National General Secretary, Ram Madhav.
Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma and Tesla CEO Elon Musk shared the World AI Conference stage in Shanghai earlier this year. It was one of the most interesting dialogues on the future of humans and the power of digital technologies like AI. At one point in the discussion Elon Musk says, ‘If you think of technology and technology awareness, if there was a topological map of technology awareness, it’s mostly flat with a few short buildings, and then some very tall spires.
Given the importance that social media platforms (especially Facebook and WhatsApp) have acquired in our lives, the book under review has every reason to grab our attention, and rightly so. The subject acquires further importance because in recent years, social media platforms have become a vehicle for spreading hate and misinformation across India.
‘Move Fast & Break Things’ used to be Facebook’s motto till April 2014; and break plenty it certainly did. In 2019, so much appears to be broken or breaking—social harmony, democracy, various freedoms and more. There is sufficient evidence to believe that Facebook along with other Big Tech companies has played a significant role in getting us here.
Last year, a promotional video produced in Pakistan for the purpose of spreading awareness to the general public against rampant kidnapping of children from the street, which shows dramatization of a child getting picked up from a street by kidnappers on a motorcycle, was doctored in such a way that it looked like a CCTV footage of an actual kidnapping taking place.
Social media occupies enormous mind space but it is only one relatively shallow manifestation of human-computer interaction. Using Artificial Intelligence in the news industry as well as for multiple data collection applications in society is going to be the way forward.
The Model Thinker is a book about models. Models are not words, but formal mathematical representations that are put together to help us understand the world. This book looks at how people can apply a many-model thinking approach to understand these complex systems to find solutions. We live in an era of big data; from our phones, to online shopping, to our social media pages, data is everywhere.
The great ‘Talk revolution’ which gripped India and the world with the mobile phone in the nineties threatened to destroy reading and writing. It was assumed that if writing had defined how our heads were wired when it was invented, the mobile phone would unspool that. But technology is always tough to anticipate, so with text messages and then the smartphone, suddenly written text was right back into our lives.
This seminal book begins by pointing out that ancient societies did not formally acknowledge the concept of privacy. The idea of privacy evolved as human civilization progressed and individual rights became important. Gradually as time passed and cultures grew in complexity, privacy became an integral part of our moral system and legal systems evolved to protect such privacy.
In the contemporary world, information technology can be argued to be the major source of power and privilege. The weaponization of information in the 21st century is a remarkable achievement given the short span within which the change has occurred, and with it state power seems to be growing in leaps and bounds. Unlike the industrial age, however, no equivalent change is visible in the structure of society and words like ‘disruption’…
We are now well into the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ which is bringing astonishing advances in many fields—information technology, life-sciences, materials, intelligent machines and a fusion of machines, information and biological systems. With gene editing, we now even have the ability to modify or even engineer new life forms.
These are politically charged times and even in polarized scenarios such as this, there are few issues that have stimulated more polarized conversations than the Unique Identity (UID) project, better known by the epithet of Aadhaar. On the one side is a seasoned army of technocrats led by Nandan Nilekani, a doyen of the IT industry, and on the other side, is an equally revered constellation of social scientists, legal experts and policy thinkers.
Any sincere academic work on India’s digital eco-system faces two major risks: first, the digital landscape changes faster than you can deploy your research tools, and secondly, your observations and conclusions are outdated by the time your hard work hits the book stores.
Kartik Hosanagar’s book A Human Guide to Machine Intelligence explores an important dimension of technology in recent times. Hosanagar is a Professor of Technology and Digital Business Studies who critically engages to fathom the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) based on algorithms.
More than at any time before in history, we are questioning the impact of technology on our lives, society, and even human existence itself. Technology is changing life as we know it at such a breakneck speed that it leaves us reeling from the disruption and need to understand what each new advancement will mean for our future: there is a surfeit of predictions but of course no one knows for certain.
While the term Industry 4.0 did arguably emerge by way of a High-Tech strategy report developed under the aegis of the German Government in 2013, it came into the general parlance only when Professor Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, published his seminal book The Fourth Industrial Revolution in 2016.
In an eye-opening and timely analysis of the world’s two divergent technological paths, the renowned futurist Amy Webb in The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans & Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity charts out the potential scenarios for an Artificial Intelligence future, pitting the United States and China in direct opposition to each other.
Atul Jalan’s book, with the intriguing title Where Will Man Take Us? is a thought-provoking exploration of where technology could take us. It raises the perennial question of, ‘Who’ are ‘We’? And, what makes humans ‘human’, and distinct from machines. It shows how man can degenerate into technology if advances in AI are not regulated.
Browne urges the reader to believe in a better future at the beginning of his work. His lens of looking at engineering and technology allows one to have hope that technology will solve more problems rather than create bigger challenges, and the only determinant is pragmatism. He reiterates that we do not need to fall into binaries of pessimism and optimism, but believe that we can set up institutions which promote accountability and account for consequences.