Look­ing Ahead

Let your imag­i­na­tion run wild.

Dataquest - - CONTENTS - Ibrahim Ah­mad ibrahima@cy­ber­me­dia.co.in

Ayoung but poor col­lege boy in a far away vil­lage in Kash­mir is tak­ing eco­nom­ics lessons from an Ox­ford pro­fes­sor. A mo­bile phone dealer in Chen­nai takes a 360 de­gree 3D view of a Tai­wanese man­u­fac­turer’s new range of mo­bile phones, checks rates with 6 sup­pli­ers there, and places an or­der. A tribal artist in Jhark­hand is dis­play­ing and sell­ing his wildlife minia­ture paint­ings to art lovers in New York. A heart sur­geon in Ban­ga­lore is per­form­ing a by­pass on a pa­tient in Moscow, us­ing robotic surgery.

I.see.this.hav­ing.a.wide.rang­ing.im­pact.on.the.world..On.peo­ple,.on. gov­ern­ments,.and.on.en­vi­ron­ment..If.what.is.de­scribed.above.starts. hap­pen­ing,.just.imag­ine.the.new.in­come.op­por­tu­ni­ties.that.will.spring.up. for.peo­ple..I.was.told.that.young.boys.and.girls.in.Bangladesh.and.Pak­istan,. who.have.only.done.some.Qu­ranic.course.in.a. madrasa. and.might.have. not.found.any.de­cent.job,.are.now.teach­ing.young.Mus­lim.chil­dren.in.the. US.how.to.read.and.re­cite.the.Qu­ran..All.this.through.a.call.cen­ter.type. of.ser­vice..The.global.pic­ture.of.distri­bu­tion.of.wealth.could.see.a.shift.. And.over.a.30-50.year.pe­riod,.the.eco­nomic.pro­file.of.this.world.could.be. com­pletely.changed.

Sim­i­larly,.if.IT.and.com­mu­ni­ca­tions.dras­ti­cally.cuts.down.the.need. to.travel,.there.will.surely.be.an.im­pact..This.im­pact.will.be.across.the. board..Mil­lions.of.peo­ple.will.be.work­ing.from.home.in­stead.of.go­ing.to. of­fice.ev­ery­day,.and.sell.prod­ucts.and.ser­vices.on-line.in­stead.of.tak­ing. cars.and.flights.to.travel.all.over..This.would.lead.to.peo­ple.los­ing.jobs. in.au­to­mo­bile.and.air­craft.man­u­fac­tur­ing,.air­lines,.air­ports,.visa.of­fices,. and.so.on..If.peo­ple.make.pay­ments.us­ing.credit.cards.and.on-line.in.their. domestic.cur­rency,.just.imag­ine.the.im­pact.on.the.de­mand.for.re­tail.for­eign. ex­change..Sud­denly,.you.will.see.the.de­mand.for.US.dol­lars.nose­dive..

Fur­ther,.just.be­cause.peo­ple.will.need.to.travel.less,.pol­lu­tion.on.the. roads.and.skies.will.come.down..But.then.the.num­ber.of.large.data.cen­ters. and.the.pol­lu­tion.from.there.could.shoot.up,.dis­turb­ing.ecol­ogy.in.a.dif­fer­ent. way..What.hap­pens.to.the.whole.ques­tion.of.global.warm­ing.then?.On.a. com­pletely.dif­fer­ent.note,.how.does.the.na­ture.of.pri­vacy.and.se­cu­rity. change.in.a.net­worked.world.where.ev­ery­one.knows.and.tracks.ev­ery­body.. The.im­pli­ca­tions,.as.I.said,.will.be.lots..

While.there.is.the­o­ret­i­cal.dis­course.hap­pen­ing.on.th­ese.is­sues,.I.am. not.sure.if.any­body.is.try­ing.to.work.on.some.real­is­tic.pro­jec­tions.and.the. num­bers..How.many.peo­ple.will.ben­e­fit,.what.type.of.new.op­por­tu­ni­ties.will. come.up,.in.which.re­gions,.how.many.peo­ple.will.loose.out,.in.what.ar­eas,. what.ge­ogra­phies,.and.so.on?.

My.un­der­stand­ing.is.as.ICT.us­age.pro­lif­er­ates,.the.changes.will.be­come. sharper..Econ­o­mists,.so­ci­ol­o­gists,.politi­cians,.and.ev­ery­body.else.who.has.a. role.in.na­tional.plan­ning.must.start.work­ing.on.th­ese.lines..The.world.will.be. a.new.and.changed.place..And.we.must.be.pre­pared.for.that.

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