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Tech and Society - I
by Subhajit Ghosh Bookmark and Share

When technology is all-pervasive in this age of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Robotics and Automation, how is it impacting us in ways that aren’t on a positive note…

  1. Ability to write – The use of the shortened form of language like ‘u’ for you visible in SMS-es and WhatsApp communication is making their way even into answer scripts of the students. Students and those who adopt the shorter route fails to appreciate the beauty of those words and the language which inevitably impairs their writing ability and appreciation of the language.
  2. Imagination & Wonderment – Einstein has said: “Imagination is more important than Knowledge.” Looking three to four decades back, there weren’t any TV around and our world was full of stories and imagination and fantasy ruled whenever we thought of them. We would visualize our heroes like THE THREE MUSKETEERS & ROBINHOOD and their act of valor through the power of our imagination. The sense of wonderment that filled the life of a child immortalized by Satyajit Ray in the classic train sighting sequence by Apu and Durga in the film PATHER PANCHALI have disappeared from the lives of children these days.
  3. Communication – When all of us are connected in various social media groups the line of separation between professional and personal lives are gradually disappearing. While I am ignorant about the situation in developed countries in the West, in developing countries like ours, in the private sector, one is expected to be in WhatsApp group of the company or available 24 X 7 on their mobile devices. Family lives of employees may go for a toss… one can’t question the escalating requirements of one’s duty lest it should appear that the employee is not sufficiently dedicated and enabling the growth of the company. After all, in most cases, the employee has a family of dependents to feed…
  4. Greetings and Invitation – Greetings and wishes have increased manifold in our lives. People have started sending e-card invitation for marriages. Do such invitations carry the human touch associated with Invitation Cards of yore that you received through your postal system or when the family members dropped into your houses for the invite?...I read a report in NEW YORK TIMES a couple of months back or so that Companies in Silicon Valley are complaining of Bandwidth problem because Indians are clogging the Internet with abundant ‘Good Morning’ wishes…
     
    Recently my mother had made a request. She wanted me to buy a ‘Get well soon’ card for her sister who underwent an operation in Kolkata. Trying to comply I went into the Gift shop in our colony. It was reasonably big in terms of space and crowd and availability of items. I looked around for the Recovery card, but to my discovery, I couldn’t see a ‘single card’ anywhere in the shop. I asked the owner and he informed me that since last three years he has stopped keeping them since there are no buyers and he incurs a big loss in stocking them…not surprising since with the advent of the Internet, there are dime a dozen sites where one can send greetings for gratis. Only a fool would spend money on them. Very much like the way email has reduced our cost in sending postal mails …I returned and told my mother about what had transpired…
     
    Cards were a part of my growing up years and the thrill of receiving one after a ‘year-long wait’ for Birthdays and New Years can’t be calibrated with any yardstick…Likewise, the man using a Typewriter and making a living with us and who had typed my post-graduate dissertation more than three decades back on the streets of a metro city have all disappeared from our lives in the age of word-processing software in computers...A passing thought engulfed me. All of us want to live in a better society. A truly evolved society need to emphasize the importance of human relationships. Ironically, Technology that has the capacity to make life better have contributed immeasurably towards its decline …
  5. Cyber War and Cyberterrorism – seems to be in the realm of possibility and a threat facing every country.
  6. Trade and Commerce & Electronic Payments – E-Commerce and newer modes of buying and selling and making payments (web/mobile) are changing our behavior and usage of time. There exists now a mind-boggling array of apps through which one can transact. All such changes are being foisted on a nation with a large adult population averse to new technology. My mother who is a graduate with a remarkable memory and spends at least an hour every day with the newspaper asked me some days back - “Does Paytm and ATM mean one and the same thing?”
  7. Teen Addiction to Gadgets – My teenage son have been advised by the doctor to stop the use of smartphones but weaning him out of his habits is proving to be quite a job for myself and his mother. Millions of teens are caught in similar addictions and coupled with stress in their lives owing to academic pressure are getting afflicted with migraines and such ailments.
  8. Education – Many educational institutes are investing in automation and software and envisioning a future where the staff and even the teacher in the classroom can be dispensed with… imagine paying through your nose for the education of your child where he/she is going to a classroom with a robot education dispenser replacing the teacher in flesh and blood…Virtual University has already gained currency.
  9. Fake Death News – Recently I read on the Net that the famous actor Sylvester Stallone had passed away. Later I found that it was hoax news. Similarly, sometime back, the news was in circulation that the eminent director Mrinal Sen had passed away. That too was a hoax… in the pre-Internet days, one rarely came across such untruth spreading at an exponential rate …
  10. Selfies In, Autographs out - Currently Selfies seems to be a rage and people would rather click selfies with celebs rather than take their autographs as memento...
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04-Mar-2018
More by :  Subhajit Ghosh
 
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