The advent of smart technology is revolutionizing life on planet earth but its long term impact on the essential elements of being human has to be assessed, Prof Deepak Kumar Srivastava, Vice Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC).
“The use of technology is enhancing the productivity of the human brain. The ability to think, act and analyze is being challenged by excessive use of technology,” Prof Srivastava said while delivering the Silver Jubilee Lecture at the Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan (SOA) Deemed to be University here on Wednesday.
Prof Srivastava said there was no need to go back to the past or renounce smart technology but one has to learn to develop the higher consciousness necessary to use technology in the optimal manner “helping us outwardly, but not limiting us inwardly.”
“We need to set our technology in the background, learn how to detach from it and connect to it when necessary,” he said while speaking on the subject ‘Balancing Smart Technology with Human Element for an Enlightened Future.’
Referring to latest innovations like Chat GPT, an Artificial Intelligence Chatbot, Prof. Srivastava said while such technology was useful it needed to be controlled with focus on human conscientiousness. “If necessity is the mother of invention, the human element is the soul of human existence,” he said.
With the arrival of smart watches, smart TV, smart phones, smart calculators and smart automobiles, the world was on the cusp of the 5th Industrial Revolution which encompassed the notion of cordial and harmonious human-machine collaborations, the expert in human relations management and labour relations, said.
Prof. Srivasatava said the policy makers and certain governments have been very serious about providing technology access to people of different age groups. For example, several governments including the United Kingdom, Scotland and Singapore had banned the use of calculators in schools to encourage cognitive thinking and help development of the brain as also basic numeracy skills in children.
Chat GPT, the recent technology product, has been banned in public schools in New York to safeguard the critical thinking and problem solving skills in children, he said.
The impact of Chat GPT is still being discussed across the globe and it depends on policy makers as to how to use such technology products, Prof Srivastava said.
In India, Prof. Srivastava said, the government has been proactive in using technology in the education system and it had been kept at the minimal level for early education of children as the major responsibility rested with the Anganwadi Workers and others.
The National Education Policy (NEP) focused on children’s physical, motor, cognitive, socio-emotional, cultural, artistic, communication, literacy and numeracy development skills, he said adding the government had launched ‘Vidya Pravesh’, a pre-school module developed by NCERT for preparing children entering Grade I.
At the same time, he said, one of the central principles steering the education system would be the ‘extensive use of technology in teaching and learning, removing language barriers, increasing access as well as education planning and management in desirable areas like smart classes, smart curriculum and classroom outcomes.
Referring to human conscientiousness, Prof. Srivasatava said it pointed at individual differences in the tendency to be hard working, orderly, responsible towards others, self-controlled and rule abiding.
A team of scientists led by Michael Wilmot of the University of Toronto had conducted a meta-analysis of 92 studies to explore the relationship between conscientiousness and various occupational variables like job competence, procrastination, leadership, organizational commitment, adaptability, job satisfaction and burnout.
“Across the variables, the researchers found strong evidence to support the view that conscientiousness is highly predictive of job performance,” he said adding “I strongly believe that smart technology with a balance of conscientiousness and consciousness is the panacea for all social problems of the 21st century.”
The NEP, he said, envisions an education system rooted in Indian ethos which contributes directly to transforming India into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society by providing high quality education to all and thereby making India a global knowledge superpower.
Some of the key initiatives being taken to realize this vision included ‘Mulya Pravah’ to inculcate deep respect towards fundamental duties and constitutional values among students and awareness of their roles and responsibilities in a changing world. Besides, thrust was being given to environment education, fostering of social responsibility, Indian Knowledge System and community engagement at the higher education level, he said adding rich Indian heritage and cultural guidelines had been framed for introducing courses.
Stating that India was on its way to become ‘Vikshit Bharat’ by 2047, Prof. Srivastava said the role of the university was to instill among the students a deep rooted pride in being Indian not only in thought but also in spirit, intellect and deeds.
SOA’s Vice-Chancellor Prof Pradipta Kumar Nanda presided over the program which was also addressed by the Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof Bibhuti Bhushan Pradhan and Dean (Students’ Welfare) Prof Jyoti Ranjan Das. Prof Renu Sharma, Additional Dean (Student Affairs), ITER proposed the vote of thanks.