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It’s hard to understand tech; it’s even harder to understand God!

Theologians have God, philosophers existence and scientists mathematics. Are we heading towards an era when we could finally zero in on who God really is! Read this and decide for yourself.

Before we look at the evolution of sweeping personal technology in the last few decades since, a quick one about ‘God’ and ‘Google’.

Google search throws up 1.78 bn results on ‘God’ in 1.17 seconds. The concept of God, as described by most theologians, includes the attributes of omniscience (infinite knowledge), omnipotence (unlimited power), omnipresence (present everywhere), divine simplicity, and as having an eternal and necessary existence.

The ‘circled dot’ is an ancient symbol for the metaphysical ‘Absolute’. Early science – particularly geometry, astrology and astronomy – was connected to the divine for most medieval scholars, and many believed that there was something intrinsically “divine” or “perfect” that could be found in circles.

Engineers when they first design a product even today and historically always – with much disdain – would leave it “hard to use”. Today, with design and UX/UI receiving the much- needed attention, any successful personal technology comes with a smooth interface. The greater the sophistication of the interface, the more successful the technology. Take for example, PCs, phones, iPADs, etc.

The future of personal technology world is bursting with possibility even as there has been a lull in the last few years.  The storm is coming which could be bigger than the first consumer PCs of the 1970s or the web of the 1990s or the smartphones of the early 2000s.

All biggies and several new kids on the block are working on some of the most exciting building blocks of the future: Artificial intelligence / machine learning, robotics and drones, smart homes, augmented reality, virtual reality, self-driving cars, and digital health / wearables. At some level, these are all inter-dependent. They include greater and more distributed computing power, better networks, smarter voice and visual recognition, new sensors and software that’s simultaneously more intelligent and more secure. Examples of all these technologies already exist, but they are early, limited and mainly attractive to enthusiasts. Compared to what’s coming, they are like my first Commodore 64K.

Facebook is working on ‘using the brain to type’ and to develop ways to “hear” through your skin. Seamlessly of course.Google’s mission is to be “AI first” and dozens of others are pursuing the prospect of recharging mobile devices with power sent through the air – goodbye power cords! Apple has big play in AR, self-driving cars besides health initiatives. An example of the last one being Apple’s reportedly ‘secret project’ to monitor the glucose levels of diabetics with new non-invasive sensors. Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and

Microsoft – all the biggies are eyeing this opportunity.

Futurists see much of this new ‘ambient computing’ world to appear within the next decade or two.

What we are going to be witnessing all around us will now be with ‘invisible’ intelligence and capabilities. The technology, the computer inside all these things, will either be in the background or to be activated by a physiological command, voice command, a motion or who knows a thought!

This new world will be unrecognisable.

Technology will no longer be an ‘add-on’ to life but ‘in-built’ –akin to the invisible, omnipresent computer in the Starship Enterprise. No longer like the early computers that were in your way – demanding ‘space’ and ‘skill’. What’s going on in the labs has the promise to change all of that.

Previous tech revolutions have also left embedded crumbs into our lives – steel beams, engine blocks, etc. But this time it is different.

The embedding moves beyond ‘YOUR LIFE’ to ‘YOU’!

It is no longer about objects and processes and most definitely about actual experiences.

Are we being haunted by British science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke’s third law. The law appearing in 1973 revision of his essay “Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination,” echoes a statement in a 1942 story by Leigh Brackett: “Witchcraft to the ignorant, … simple science to the learned”. An earlier example of this sentiment may be found in Wild Talents (1932) by Charles Fort: “…a performance that may one day be considered understandable, but that, in these primitive times, so transcends what is said to be the known that it is what I mean by magic”.

Clarke gave an example of the third law when he said that while he “would have believed anyone who told him back in 1962 that there would one day exist a book-sized object capable of holding the content of an entire library, he would never have accepted that the same device could find a page or word in a second and then convert it into any typeface and size from Albertus Extra Bold to Zurich Calligraphic”, referring to his memory of “seeing and hearing ‘Lynotype’ machines which slowly converted ‘molten lead into front pages that required two men to lift them’”.

A contrapositive of the third law is: “Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced”. (Gehm’s corollary).

Is technology that “superhuman being or spirit worshipped as having power over nature or human fortunes” as described by Oxford and Merriam-Webster definition in dictionary of God.  Many theologians also describe God as being omni-benevolent (perfectly good) and all loving.

Is Shiva – the “destroyer and transformer” within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu – masquerading as technology!

As a techno-optimist and as a believer in God, my view is that we have a bright, transformative and enriching future to look forward to.

Challenges galore – privacy and security issues for one. The unparalleled power of the Apple’s and Google’s of the world – for another. Achieving sustainable progress will be an uphill task.

Piyush Sharma

Piyush Sharma is a global tech, media and entrepreneurial leader with a reputation for value creation and catalytic growth - across large billion dollar enterprises and start-ups. He created the successful foray of Zee Entertainment in India and globally under the ‘Living’ brand and successfully spearheaded their digital commerce foray in India.
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