Human history has already passed through Stone Age, Iron Age and Bronze Age. Even when computers started establishing their supremacy on all aspects of human life no one thought of calling it a Computer Age. This is because of the simple fact that computing is part of our lives in the modern age and making some machines to do things faster for us is not a big deal. When ordinary telephones became mobile our communications increased several fold and when mobiles turned over their third generation our touches became much more powerful. But the new offspring of computers and mobile is going to be a game changer in every sense. A formidable combination of computers and mobiles, the tablet avatar, is destined to change human history forever. We will have no choice but to term contemporary times as the dawn of a new age – Tablet Age.
There are at least ten different brands of tablets already in the market. Apple started the tablet tsunami and it is sure that we will have a choice in hundreds by the end of the decade. What makes these tablets so powerful? First of all they combine the powerful trio of computer, internet and telephone. In the so-called era of convergence, such a gadget would embody the complete spirit of convergence. Then tablets are essentially wire-free and very soon the concept and requirement of any wiring will vanish. And finally tablets can be made in any configuration with or without special features, and it will soon be available in a wide spectrum of prices. People from all strata of our society will have access to some form of a tablet in a very brief history of time. The social implications of such a scenario can be far-reaching if we as mankind do not make the mistake again, like what we did with atomic fission.
Greatest advantage of a tablet PC is its size and shape. The credit goes exclusively to Steve Jobs and Apple who took a great risk while launching their IPad tablet. Perhaps the intuition he gained during his hippi-days in India gave Steve Jobs some Rishi-like intuition. Till then every one in the industry had thought that such a size and shape will be rejected by the users. But the real fact was that the entire world was waiting for such a gadget which can compute, communicate and entertain us. All the inconveniences about not being able to carry it in your pocket have vanished in no time. Mobile devices were too small to promote extended reading. Netbooks and laptops were too heavy to become part of our casual luggage. But the tablets are going much beyond all these. It is becoming an extended part of our body and already there are many who cannot live without.
But the biggest breakthrough with tablets is going to be in its pricing. There is no doubt that within a decade we are going to have tablets with almost same set of features priced from USD 50 to USD 500 flooding the market. Quite in parallel with this will be the growth of wi-fi, 3G and 4G coverage over almost the entire planet. The scenario of a tablet in every hand in a wi-fi area is definitely not a distant possibility. What can be better empowerment than this? It is already said in lighter vein that many of our children have much more access to any information they want than even presidents of nations a decade ago. If a substantial section of human beings can have such a luxury the changes it can bring about are beyond imagination. Access to right information irrespective of gender, race, colour and even geography can change our entire decision making process.
One of the definite possibilities in the Tablet Age will be the explosion of education and literacy cutting across social strata, gender, geography and age. The biggest background work that is presently underway in IT industry relates to preparation of materials fit for tablet enabled education (TEE). Almost all the industry majors and worldwide entrepreneurs are on the job and it is undoubtedly a multi billion market. Conventional schools will disappear and there is future only for institutes of higher learning offering on-the-job training in areas that cannot be substituted with virtual systems. The process is going to be slow but the number of people involved will be in millions. An educational revolution in the same pattern of industrial revolution, but at a much faster pace, is going to change our universe like nothing before.
A large section of world’s population remains poor only because of they are uneducated, illiterate and at the mercy of religious fanaticism. We still have so many who cannot survive even if they are offered everything they need. What is lacking in such people is the right skills for survival and the capability to pick up such skills. Generations of social or religious dictatorships have extinguished the rational thirsts of such people. But rationality cannot be taken away from human beings and given the right environment it will sprout again. Tablet age is sure to provide the right climate for emancipation of such people reeling under blinding books, single god and fear of hell. Tablets will become the much needed torch lights for all those who are locked up in the dungeons of ignorance.
Mankind is on the verge another positive discovery after someone accidentally lighted the first fire and recited ‘loka samasta sukhino bhavantu’. The name and form of tablets in an omnipresent and omnipotent wi-fi universe and knowledge accumulation over the public clouds can change our societies forever. There will be attempts by the fanatics to hijack the new platform. Unbridled transparency being the most essential nature of the new tool, all such attempts are bound to fail. For every virus let loose by the fanatics there will be thousands of immediate antidotes from a highly connected world and that would bring instantaneous deaths to their ideas itself. Such sudden deaths to fanatical ideas and orders would have made our planet a virtual heaven already. Tablets are going to achieve what nuclear bombs could not.