Why it will be a big setback for India, rejecting driverless car technology?

It’s a big debate going on whole through the world, how automation and artificial intelligence are killing jobs. Now a days every company directly or indirectly depend upon these disruptive technologies to remain competitive in the world market. Countries like Japan have ageing population problem and it’s their compulsion to invest in automation and invent technologies which require less human workforce. The problem is, the same technology is used further by every other country, to remain competitive. In European countries labour rates are becoming so high that it’s not economically viable hiring high waged labours and so, disruptive technologies like drones, driverless cars, etc come to the rescue. Technological companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc are investing heavily in artificial intelligence to develop newer and innovative products. They have even introduced chatbots which can replace a large workforce employed as customer care executives. But, whatever may be the reason, at last world blames India and China for job losses in their countries.

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There was a serious debate started when Bill gates suggested taxing robots which replace human workforce. It seems nonsense at first, but later we realise, he might be true. Companies will do everything they can, to replace the last remaining humans workforce with Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Robots  etc to remain competitive and increase their profit. If one company does this, others are bound to follow the same. Although this makes a job being done more accurately and even productivity and efficiency increases, but it leads to more competition in job market. Job seekers have to update their skills to remain relevant. So, it seems to be a big issue now. Manufacturing and service sectors are the largest employers all over the world. So, automation, AI etc  should be a matter of concern for all world governments.

If we see the other side of the story, After renaissance, we saw a lot of disruptive technologies coming. From steam engine, to generators all changed human lives. There was a time when having electricity and travelling in a motor car was seen as luxury, but with the continuation of disruptive technologies, efficiency and productivity increased, goods and services became cheaper. With the same income, we could afford a lot more goods and services. Now, the definition of luxury changed, even items defining luxury changed. During 1980-1990’s very few people owned telephones and TV’s. Whole village sat for watching “Ramayana” on Doordarshan, together. People travelled long distances  for a simple 2 minute phone call. Then came disruption in communication technology which made it cheaper and easily available. Every family started owning Tv and mobile phones, channels increased to thousands which created a lot of employment too, but now computers became luxury. Furthermore technologies got cheaper and now, most of the educated families own a laptop or desktop. What I mean to say is, disruption and advancement in technology is normal. It makes our basket of goods and services bigger with the passage of time. We consume more even with the same income as before.

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India had a big debate when computer was first introduced. People were too much worried that bank’s, railway ticketing, communication sector etc jobs will be replaced by computers. There were protests to stop computers being deployed. But, now we observe, The Indian IT industry, which we are very proud of wouldn’t have been possible if we had not moved on with computer technology. Now, even financial services require artificial intelligence. Intraday trading is done by softwares and algorithms. Long term financial planning is done by computers. Big data technology studies human behaviour and help consumer targeting leading to overall increase in demand. We have softwares controlling satellites, cloud technology making businesses easier. India sees good opportunities in medical tourism just because, our hospitals are technologically updated. The most complex weather phenomena “monsoon” is very much predictable now due to super computers. India is eyeing aviation software market due to its knowledge in IT. Even disaster damages get minimised and we have good rescue operations if meteorological department is able to collect weather data and process it with the help of supercomputers. Indian pharmaceutical companies  are also discovering new molecules and compounds with the help of supercomputers. Many world IT companies are shifting their research centres to India. we are investing heavily in biotechnology and even gene editing technologies now.

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How all of these became possible ? we were reliant on Russia and USA for technologies till 1990. What changed?  We can all agree that LPG reforms, free flow of technology and introduction of computers changed India. It won’t be an exaggeration to say, Computers wrote the fortune of India. It affected every field we can see and think of. Whatever India is today is largely due to the introduction of computers. The fear of replacing jobs proved to be exaggerated  and it became the lifeline of our economy. Modern India wouldn’t have been like this if we had made the mistake of rejecting computer technology.

Till 1990, India always got technology 15-20 years late. This kept us on back foot. We became consumers, not innovators. Let me give you a recent example which you will find very interesting. Till last year, India was ranked 130+ in mobile and broadband data usage, but after introduction of “JIO” it is now in top 3. A single disruptive force “JIO” changed our life. We can easily see content creators all around us. Many talents which were hidden from us started showing up. A lot of Facebook pages are owned by Indians  posting good things about India are influencing people all over the world. Even media companies like “BBC”, “The economist”, “The new York Times” etc which always trolled India, write good articles now about India to get more Indian online readers. Indians are always commenting on most of the articles and posts. They reply/tweet to many world renowned journalists, media houses to show them why they are not always factually correct about India.

I am not saying that India changed over night and problems got solved, but common Indians get a say in everything they wish. They are putting their   perception and opinion on the digital world. In the modern world, its not wrong to say that perception changes a lot of things and a single powerful opinion can spread like wildfire and change others perception/opinion too. For example, when connectivity, data use increases, data prices go down, we can see online education Portal like BYJU coming up. BYJU even bought “Pearson education company”. A lot of companies are now allowing employees to work from home. This reduces traffic Jams and mental stress.It can even make jobs for women easier. In India, till last year unlimited internet packs were available for around 10000 rupees per month, now available for 130 rupees pm. Even a daily wage labourer can afford it now. Tele education, tele medicine etc all are in their reach. Now according to some reports, India will be among first few countries  switching to 5G in coming years. So, we can see how a simple disruption like “Jio” can change the way we do things.

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The same can be said about driverless car technology. Till now its upto cars only. India is a big manufacturing hub of cars. Even Indian automotive part makers supply to the world famous car makers. Now the question arises is , If the car makers won’t see any domestic market for their driverless cars why they will set up factory in India? Why not move to china, which is accepting this technology? In the coming future, there are plans to make planes pilotless, trucks driverless, drones which can deliver pizza, air drone ambulances, etc. All the other accessories and minute parts will be designed in accordance with driverless technologies. What if we loose all the future opportunity in this field due to this simple mistake we are doing? This technology is mostly based on sensors and big data analytics in which we are good at. With the introduction of 5G, “internet of things” is going to be revolutionised. There is a concept of communicating cars which will help reduce accidents. Heath care can improve in future due to self driving ambulances. We can think of a lot of other sectors which the technology can impact. Other Industries can even find use of sensors developed for driverless cars.The Big data analytics technology can have uses in other IT sectors, and the list goes on. We are even introducing driverless metro trains in Delhi, We had no issues there. So, What if, we are again left behind in adopting this disruptive technology which could have transformed India into an automation,technological and  manufacturing hub but due to the fear of loosing some million driving jobs, we are left clueless in future and again come to the receiving end of technology?

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Indian government should come to senses before its too late. Technologically we shouldn’t be left behind in any field. Temporarily it may lead to job losses, but in the end it will open a window of opportunities like once computer did.

Article By : Gaurav Kumar

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