These days invariably, in office cafeteria or over coffee, discussion goes on automation, Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence and anticipated impact of it.
The response varies from anticipation to enthusiasm to cynicism to utter apathy. Some people look forward to working on new technologies and breaking barriers whereas many are skeptical about what lies in future. Some refer to the good work that can be done and things that can be achieved whereas many are scared. Reference to movies like terminator too come up many times. But most of the people involved in the discussion hae mixed responses.
Sometimes I wonder, is it not the same happened with each change that was brought in? First we feel the change, then we resist the change and finally we accept the change. Feel it. Resists it. Accept it: the cycle goes on for all changes, whether those are technological or lifestyle related or anything that touches human beings.
<b> Curious case or Coffee </b>
Most of the discussion in offices happen with a cup of coffee in hands. However, many of us are unaware that this substance, which is considered essential and is taken 'for granted' was banned in many parts of the world.
Mecca had banned it for it may invoke radical thoughts.
Europe had banned for fearing it may have an impact on local business of milk, bear and wine. If not for the pope, who found this devil to be delicious, the ban would have been in place for years to come. Thanks God he liked the taste (well, in retrospect, it had to happen, given the taste that the beans carry)
Sweden banned it to an extent that if found guilty of sipping coffee, cutleries of the household could be confiscated.
Constantinople - capital of one of the biggest empires of that time - had banned it and punishment was in order if one is found sipping coffee
I am sure similar bans would have been in place elsewhere too
But not only did coffee survive but is one of the biggest business with annual revenue of more than 450,000 mn USD and is expected to grown further by at least 5% per annum.
Man/Horse vs the Machine
Riding on horse driven carriage is romantic. At one point of time, it was essential. From civilians to nobility to military to royal travel was dependent on horses. The army needed horses to mobilize its men and munition.
From central park in New York City to Marine Drive in Mumbai, horse driven carriages, even now, have their own charm. A ride in victoria is the fun you may not want to miss when you visit the places, which offer such ride.
In countryside, tonga takes place of victoria and for a long time was essential part of the journey. It also caught imagination of movie makers. Who can forget Dhanno and Basanti of Sholay, who became as famous as Gabbar Singh.
Folk songs were made around tonga, also called 'tamtam' in certain par of our country.
Victoria, Tonga or carriages and horses used by brigades, all had caught imagination of human being so much that when the machines came in, there was huge resistance. Movies like Naya Daur were made to showcase importance of horses and tongas and tried to prove that the horses are not only essential but also better than machines. Portraying machines are evil may not have started from this movie but it must be in a series of such movies.
Man vs Machine did not stop there.
Computerization of Indian Railways
Today, every laptop is a ticket counter. We do not think twice before checking or booking a ticket. But at the time when computerization of Indian railways started, there was huge chaos. Railways has the distinction of being the biggest employer and that added to the chaos. Political parties jumped in; labor unions were up in arms and common man were swayed by these two groups. It was supposed to have resulted in huge loss of jobs and would have impacted so many employees and workers.
Computerization happened but instead of resulting in huge loss of jobs, has ensure more spread, more job creation and improved process. Looking back, all the brouhaha around computerization seem so nonsense that it sounds funny,
The count of such changes and human response to such changes are listless.
We are undergoing similar situation now. Man vs Machine is once again the flavor of discussion these days. There is scepticism in the air but then there is euphoria too.
Not sure when and how the AI will reach singularity but am sure it would one day. Not sure what the time has in its womb of singularity but I do hope it may turn out to be good for us.
Till then let us enjoy the process of Feel it; Resist it; till we are ready to accept it.