We are in throes of Industrial Revolution 4.0: Narendra Jadhav

New Delhi (IANS) Late American mathematician Claude Shannon, known as the ‘father of information theory’, had said, “I visualise a time when we will be to robots what dogs are to humans. And I am rooting for the machines.” And as surely humans are getting sucked into dependence on machines for every facet of their lives. This is the New Age Technology, or Industrial Revolution 4.0, “that is happening now and will change our lives completely, unrecognisably”, says Narendra Jadhav, Rajya Sabha member and an economist, educationist and public policy expert, in his latest book.

“Alexa, Siri – these small robots are becoming part of our lives. We cannot exist without our mobile phones, e-commerce has increased rapidly. This is the Industrial Revolution 4.0, and it is happening now, and rapidly unfolding,” says Jadhav in his latest book, his 40th.

The book, “New Age Technology and Industrial Revolution 4.0: Global Public Policy Issues in Economy, Democracy, National Security and World Peace”, was released by Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu earlier this week.

The book, published by Konark Publishers, is divided into four parts. “The first part explains what is New Age Technology about that is changing our lives. The second part explains the implications of this New Age Technology, what are the implications – for economic growth, implications for jobs, for socio economic inequality, for banking and finance,” Jadhav, who was member of the National Advisory Council (NAC) and the Planning Commission in the UPA II, told IANS.

However, he clarifies that the book is “not a book on technology and I am not a technologist”.

“The book is written in the global context. I discuss the good and the bad aspects of this New Age Technology, the opportunities made available and the challenges posed. The third part, talks about what are the public policy issues, where I talk about right to privacy, social media, fake news, cyber security, surveillance, national security, and global peace, threats to national security coming from weaponisation of technology.”

The fourth part, is a small chapter on India – on what is happening in this field in the country, says Jadhav, who has authored more than 21 books on B.R. Ambedkar. His autobiographical work – “Aamcha Baap Aan Amhi”, in Marathi, is the largest selling book in the history of Marathi literature and has been translated into several Indian languages, as well as foreign.

With automation linked with digital technology predicted to take over millions of jobs, including 69 per cent in India and 77 per cent in China in the next 15 years, according to a 2016 study by Oxford University’s Martin School and Citi, new kinds of jobs will be created. “For that you need new skills. We don’t know whether the jobs lost will be more or jobs created,” he said, citing the introduction of computers in India in the 1980s to which there was much resistance. But new jobs were created rapidly.

“Unemployment rate is high in the country, and with changes taking place we had better have jobs created to compensate for the possible jobs lost on account of automation,” Jadhav added.

Citing the positive aspects of automation, he said it can be useful in teaching, where the best of teachers can be made accessible anywhere “through click and learn”. For healthcare too this new age technology is useful, and providing healthcare in distant and remote places, including in Siachen.

“In the case of diseases, longevity can be increased and death will be considered as a disease,” he said, citing Haider Warraich, a cardiologist at Duke University Medical Center who has said that “the way we die will be considered unthinkable 50 years from now”, thanks to advancements in science and technology.

“What he is saying is that longevity will be increased so much through New Age Technology, like a liver can be created through 3-D printing (part of automative technology).”

While New Age Tech can be immensely useful in reaching healthcare to remote places like Gadchiroli, and the Siachen heights, for example, on the other hand there are public policy issues that it impinges upon.

“In the case of Right to Privacy, there is no privacy law in the country, no data protection law. All banking and financial information can be stolen,” he said.

He cited personal data theft, cyber attacks like �wannacry’, and the ubiquitous mobile phone which while informing the user about traffic and restaurants nearby is also at the same time giving out information about the user’s location, his or her movements, what the user is doing, his or her preferences, the time spent at a certain place, money spent etc.

“Because of the havoc it can cause, it is important for countries to work together on this. On the hand it can increase the standard of living, longevity, and on the other destroy humanity. We are at a fork, at a Y junction – which way do you want to go?”

The final chapter of the book is about regulation and strategic development of New Age Technology. “There has to be international cooperation, and in a cooperative spirit we will have to optimise and get the maximum of positive outcomes, while minimising the risk of adverse things. This cannot be done by one country, it has to be done collectively by all countries, in a multilateral framework,” he added.

He cited the late Stephen Hawking, world-renowned astrophysicist and author of “A Brief History of Time”, who believed that Artificial Intelligence (AI) would be impossible to control in the long term, and could quickly surpass humanity if given an opportunity.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that AI is the future. “It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world,” Putin said.

In the case of India, there has been one strategy paper produced by NITI Aayog on AI. “It is a discussion paper,” said Jadhav.

India is using AI in a small manner, in a selective manner. “A whole lot of investment is needed in New Age Technology,” feels Jadhav.

His book has already aroused a lot of interest, with Marathi and Hindi editions to be out soon. There has been a lot of interest evinced in South Korea for the book. His book “Aamcha Baap Aan Amhi” is available in Korean.

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