Guest Column

New Technologies Solving Problems or Raising Challenges

February, 2019

Today, we are in the world of advancing technology for Humanity. We can leverage new technologies to address some of our biggest challenges; a dangerously changing climate; pressure on natural resources like water and food; and historic levels of inequality.

The many opportunities provided by new technology are largely used to help solve issues that an organization, Government or consumer is having – streamlining processes, improving efficiency, enhancing customer experience, and ultimately new technology should be designed to positively disrupt its current field and increase revenue.

However, that same technology can be applied to help remedy a variety of wider challenges facing society, from healthcare to environmental sustainability – and technology leaders can play an important part in driving that change through innovative thinking and collaboration. I call it as Human-Machine Collaboration. Earlier, Technology was assisting Humans and now Humans are assisting Technology.

Let’s illustrate how new technology is helping to solve major problems and also raising challenges.

Climate Change

Today, carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions are at a record high, globally. To address this issue, the transportation sector is introducing Electric vehicles. The challenges to this are more efficient batteries and battery-charging technology stations, policy amendments etc. Advancement of embedded Sensors and Internet of Everything (IoE) with four pillars: people, process, data, and things (IoT) can create more efficient & smart society, at large.

Natural Resources

The advent of new technology has the potential to transform environmental protection. No human technology can fully replace ‘nature’s technology’ perfected over billions of year in delivering key services to sustain life on Earth.

We consume more natural resources than the planet can regenerate. If we continue to produce, consume and power our lives the way we do right now, forests, farm lands, rivers, oceans and weather systems will be overwhelmed and will collapse.

The possibilities for technology partnerships to revive nature are endless. Our challenge now is to scale this work beyond the realm of remote sensing, planning, monitoring and into all of the global places we are working to protect the planet. More than technology, we need a paradigm shift in mindset and understanding of the role that nature and biodiversity plays in our lives and businesses. It means, people must be aware of the challenges facing our planet and what we’re doing to solve them.

Thus, technology can transform how we identify, measure, track and value the services and resources that nature provides us with. The technologies used for these purposes are Artificial Intelligence (AI); Remote Sensing; Drones; Crowd Sourcing; Drip Irrigation; Thermal Imaging; Block chain technology, etc

Social Inequality

Advancement of technology is helping to reduce poverty by creating more jobs and allowing those in developing countries to reach a wider market. Having access to the internet, combined with digital literacy are opening up more opportunities for more people to economically support themselves with multiple sources of income.

Smart classroom education has opened up new opportunities for students and teachers. Now, the remote locations can have internet, cloud access for development and remote services, video conferencing, entertainment, etc. Those who cannot enroll in school or university, have a chance to access free online courses, or even self-learning through sites like YouTube & Wikipedia.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies are taking shopping experiences to a whole new level in the society. It has entered the construction, real-estate, interior design, retail & fashion industries; including medicine, education & computer games and science sectors to enhance customer service and create a personalized customer experience.

Advancement of technology in healthcare lead IoT (Internet of Things) wearables that will provide user-generated health data that can be used to detect health issues and alert emergency services, more quickly. Further, Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), allowing clinicians to access record from anywhere, anytime, as well as interact with patients and doctors. EMRs will improve the patient experience, reduce costs for hospitals, and lead to higher quality care globally.

Technological companies are creating digital companion powered by AI based virtual assistants, integrating with voice controlled smart devices like thermostats, doorbells, lamps, switches, alarms clocks, refrigerators, car accessories, robot vacuums, etc and raising challenges is to manage and make use of digital assistants. We need to learn their language tone to speak a very specific command to trigger a virtual assistant so as to control a device since they have not learned our language. Moreover, safeguarding this internet connected home and business own devices from Cybersecurity will continue be a raising challenge.

Conclusion

New technology that will invade our day to day life now. It does provide a range of new ways to tackle some of the most pressing issues the society faces. Those who work and lead in technology have the opportunity to be part of the solution to many social issues. The ability to identify where our organization can make a difference, and collaborate with grass root organizations, startups, local community groups and government agencies, who can help to address and improve many of these challenges. Enterprise has a responsibility to drive positive social action, and with all the possibilities presented by new technology, a real and lasting change is very much within reach. When a business demonstrates a genuine purpose, consumers experience a whole-hearted connection to the brand and its products & services. They will choose a company’s product and services that is authentic and purposeful even though, it means paying more.

- Subbarao Hegde
Director - Hosabale Agro Producer Company Limited, COMPEGENCE, Nascor group, ApON India,
Ex.CTO - GMR group
Mentor to CoE in Cyber Security, Govt. of Karnataka; Team5 Technologies