The Palkhivala Foundation has been presenting eminent jurists and public figures to deliver special lectures. S Ramadorai who headed TCS with great distinction and who is presently heading the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) presented a lecture on the fourth industrial revolution. His description of the things available in store through the digital medium, the demand it will make and risks involved provided a mindboggling scenario.
The earlier three revolutions – the industrial revolution of 18th century, the automobile revolution of 20th century and the revolution generated by computers after the 1960s were game changers. These were linear and took a reasonably long time. Ramadorai said that the fourth revolution will be disruptive and rapid. He described in detail the main components of this fourth revolution.
• Artificial intelligence (AI) that would help rapid transfer and scaling up of capabilities to think, analyse and act that in course of time would take over many of the routine functions performed by humans. He pointed to Japan focusing on producing millions of AI robots that would strengthen the nation as a strong manufacturing centre.
• The second relates to the effective integration of nano technology, biotechnology and other high-end science to provide better health care. eg. focused treatment of cancer by eliminating only malignant cells.
• The third relates to the technology for creating new organs. Ramadorai referred to a Princeton scientist creating a synthetic ear. The revolutionary change in the manufacturing sector with the advent of the 3D printer would help a surgeon fine-tune his surgery by having a printed model of the part to be operated upon by his side.
• Yet another revolutionary change would be in the field of interactive and intelligent gadgets. In this, air conditioners, refrigerators and cars can ‘talk’ to each other and ‘act’ to serve with utmost efficiency. Ramadorai pointed to roof top solar panels adjusting their inclinations to absorb the maximum solar radiation.
This technology expert also cautioned about the challenges and risks posed: Cyber security can be broken to implant viruses. He referred to a virus crippling a nuclear reactor in Iran.