Dr. M. Ramachandran
Our country was not able to cope up with first and second industrial revolution of 18th and 19th centuries. We were not the gainers but victims. But we are able to move along with the 3rd Industrial Revolution (IR) in the second half of 20th century. Thanks to the progress of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
Now the first and second world countries are undergoing rapid slides in fourth industrial revolution technologies. The first IR was triggered by the invention of steam engine, which led to mechanical production.
The second IR, catalysed by electricity, and assembly line made mass production feasible through the discovery and usage of electricity.
The third IR, from 1960s had been driven by computer, internet and digital technology.
The fourth IR is being driven today by the following ten technologies:
- Autonomous robots
- Big data analytics
- Augmented reality
- The cloud
- Cyber security
- Additive manufacturing
- Horizontal and vertical integration
- The Internet of things
- Artificial intelligence
Deep Blue, Sophia. Erica, and Alpha Go
We had earlier given only news value to the event when we heard about Deep Blue, a super computer developed by IBM in 1997 which defeated Garry Kasprov, the world chess champion. Now the world is looking at Sophia, a Hong Kong made, now a Saudi Arabian citizen ‘robot’ named Sophia.
Erica is a TV anchor in Tokyo based channel services. It happened last year in China, Alpha Go, a Go programme designed by Google defeated the champion of Chinese ‘Go’ games. ‘Go’ is an ancient Chinese game like our chess which has a large number of moves.
Everyone believed in the past even after Deep Blue that no computer can defeat Go player Lee Sedol. But Alpha Go defeated him in a straight set of five matches.
This is the contemporary history of Artificial Intelligences and Robots which is leaving no stone unturned.
Elias, the Robotic teacher in Finland schools
Now let us see how these modern 4IR technologies are effecting school and college classrooms. Take the case of Elias, the robotic teacher in Finland classrooms. London based international news agency, Reuters recently reported that Finland schools deployed robots as teachers.
Elias, the new language teacher at Finish primary school, has endless patience for repetition, never makes a student embarrassed for asking a question, giving personal attention and individual care to each learner and delivery or imparting information is a better quality one.
Elias, this language teaching machine comprises a humanoid robot and mobile application. This robot was introduced as a pilot programme in the southern city of Tampere schools in Finland.
Elias is not an ordinary teacher like us, it can understand and speak 23 languages and is equipped with software that allows it to understand students requirements and helps it to encourage learning. This robot recognizes the pupils’ skill level and adjusts its questions accordingly. It also gives feedback to teachers about a student’s possible learning difficulties or deficiencies.
Elias, which stand around a foot tall, is based on ‘Soft Banks’ NAO humanoid interactive companion robot, with software developed by Utelias, a developer of educational software for social robots. Other subjects like maths, science and social studies, the robots are in the pipeline or in the laboratories now.
There is a widespread concern over the potential impact of the 4IR on employment. Whether Elias can replace a teacher in the classroom? It is a fact that 16 workers committed suicide recently at Taiwanese manufacturer, Foxconn’s factory in Shenzhen which assembles Apple’s iPhones, and iPads.
The Shenzhen alone now employs 60, 000 plus robots which replaced more than 1 lakh employees during the last 4 years.
What will be the classrooms of future like?
Emerging technologies such as cloud computing, augmented reality (AR) and 3D Printing are paving the way for the new classrooms. Virtual field trips are possible with augmented reality. It will be very interesting for children to learn History when topics like TajMahal are being taught in primary classes.
3D printers in the classroom will lead to teachers being able to reconstruct complex models to teach theoretical concepts. The digital library will be accessible even in a campus where there is no hardware library.
With the help of cloud computing, schools will be setting up online learning platforms for students to log on an attend classes in a virtual environment. Social networks allows students to share their ideas freely, while teachers moderate.
Social networking tools will be incorporated to enhance collaboration and team building initiative.
No doubt, laptops and smart phones will be replaced. An extremely light, paper thin, A 4-sized digital paper prototype will be used in future classrooms.
School security systems in American schools
The recent school firing in the US opened the door for new debate on student’s security and safety at schools. The scientific and engineering community, however are proposing new technology driven security solutions using new biometric security processes, artificial intelligence and mobile Tele presence robots, voice recognition devices, unobstructive video etc.
Tele-bot (Tele presence robots) designed for schools could provide pleasing, entertaining and educational devices, easily accepted into school community without fear of disrupting classroom activities or smooth school environment.
But now the question arises. When it will happen in India? It is a known fact that Qatar is the first county which made 5G services available now (2018). Whether we can make use of 5G facilities in the year 2022 or beyond. Let us explore and implore the technological breakthrough.
Author is Principal, Doon International School, Srinagar