Digital exclusion in this digital world
is a real danger (Mint)
Mains Paper 3: Science and Tech
Prelims level: Not much
Mains level: Impacts of digital inclusion
- The use of smart technology is a critical part of our evolution, but it
needs to achieve mass relevance.
Positive side of digital inclusion
- The smartphones today are a radio, phone, television and even the power
of the internet, all put together.
- They help us stay in touch with our family and relatives, transfer
money, buy goods, pay our bills, and even monitor our blood pressure and
heart beats. Digital technologies are revolutionizing healthcare.
- Doctors are using smart devices to remotely monitor the health of
patients, and even perform remote surgeries with the help of robots of
course, not the Terminator or SkyNet ones made popular by sci-fi films.
- They are also using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies like
machine learning and deep learning to seek patterns and diagnose diseases
better than any specialist could do.
- Gene-editing tools like CRISPR-Cas9 (and variants of it), too, are
helping doctors find treatments for life-threatening diseases.
Digital evolution from past decade
- Youngsters born between 1995 and 2015 and better known as Gen Z take
electricity, gas cylinders, phones and the internet for granted.
- But even for Gen Z, for whom programming is almost second nature and who
are familiar with terms like the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain,
robotics, virtual and augmented reality and drones.
- This is just the beginning of a very exciting but challenging journey.
- We are already seeing the onset of driverless vehicles, hyperloops,
bullet trains, low-cost satellites, flying copters, quantum computers,
bendable and foldable screens and robots that care for the elderly, clean
our rooms, move goods, serve food and even issue parking tickets, among
AI integrated technology
- With 5G on the anvil, practically every device will potentially be able
to communicate with another and we may soon see the advent of smart walls
that become our screen when we point a device at them.
- These smart screens will provide us with entertainment, infotainment
(with augmented reality and virtual reality built in) and many other
- Retail will dramatically change once devices begin ordering goods for
robots to deliver.
- People will routinely walk in front of smart mirrors and buy customized
clothes, and robots at counters (or counters with voice AI) will recognize
you and even alert you if you miss an item on your regular grocery list.
Challenges behind misusing technology
- The challenge is that there is always the grave danger of having too
much data passing into the wrong hands be it the hands of cybercriminals who
can steal our identities (ransomware is already the bugbear of individuals
and companies) or even governments that can (and do) use the data to connect
the dots with the help of AI to govern our social media habits and introduce
policies to instil in us what they deem as “proper" behaviour and police
people with the help of Face IDs.
- Further, genetically-modified designer babies (scientists will find a
way to make them live longer) with enhanced memories and information
downloads could redefine education and monopolize highly-skilled jobs.
- This, even as smart robots continue to make routine jobs redundant and
those who can’t be reskilled fall by the wayside.
- Despite of strong belief that the melding of science and technology is a
critical part of our evolutionary road map, smart technology has to become
cheaper and be made relevant to the masses, failing which it could end up
increasing the digital divide.
- A tacit admission by governments that this technology disruption due to
AI, automation and robotics will impact and alienate many people is borne by
the fact that we are mooting the idea of a “Universal Basic Income".
- With three billion people predicted to still be offline in 2023, and
many more failing to reap the internet’s full potential.
- The time to address digital exclusion is now, insists the Pathways for
Prosperity Commission on Technology and Inclusive Development, which is
hosted and managed by Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government.
- Solutions are not just about shiny technology," the Commission notes,
“but rather about diagnosing and fixing systemic problems first and using
- India, with its increased focus on digital India and AI and a 1.3
billion population, surely has its work cut out.
Q.1) Consider the following statements with reference to India’s
1. There is no law in India for countries with which India does not have an
extradition treaty and every extradition with such country is dealt case by case
2. India does not have an extradition treaty with Pakistan, China and
3. Nodal body for extradition cases is the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
a) 1 and 3 only
b) 2 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) 3 only
Q.1) What has all this got to do with digital technologies increasing the