High-profile panel warns of unavoidable, far-reaching tech revolution

Influential innovators, technologists and entrepreneurs offer varied solutions and
 perspectives on staying afloat over day-long FAYA:80 summit in Technopark  

Thiruvananthapuram, July 07: Observing that a technological upheaval, with far-reaching consequences playing out on a larger scale and smaller time-frame than even the Industrial Revolution, is imminent, a panel of prominent tech ecosystem personalities here on Wednesday called for a paradigm shift in how businesses and employees plan to navigate this sea change.

“While change is a welcome constant, the adaptability of entities already in Kerala’s IT ecosystem will be severely tested. They will need to prepare substantively for rapid change to stay relevant since emerging players and students will already possess the skills to succeed in the new landscape,” Kerala Electronics and IT Secretary Shri M. Sivasankar said.

He was speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Staying Relevant at the Age of Disruption’ – the centerpiece event of ‘Disrupting Kerala 2017’, a high-profile summit to examine emerging trends and challenges in an in-flux IT landscape held last evening (July 5) at Technopark. The conference, marking the 50th edition of the FAYA:80 tech conclave series, was organised by the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) in association with NASSCOM and ICFOSS.

“Much like how the Industrial Revolution created a new set of jobs, so too will this change offer great opportunities to those prepared for them. We should ride the tide. Kerala is adaptive. We should be able to champion, pioneer and internalise the change in a manner that benefits the entire society. Procrastinators though will find themselves by the wayside,” Shri Sivasankar said.

The discussion, which also featured influential technologists Bitcoin Canada founder Michael Gord and Embrace Innovations co-founder Rahul Alex Panicker, CARMa Venture Services CMD Prof. Nandini Vaidyanathan and Associate Professor at IIITM-K Dr. Asharaf S., was moderated by CLAP Research founder Anoop Ambika.

“Any means of livelihood that does not require creativity and empathy, as we understand them, will soon be automated. The better machines get at interpreting human intent, the sooner jobs – whether in construction, clerical work or clinical medicine,  will be made redundant. Even software engineers,” Panicker said, sparking ripples of conversation among an audience of over 350 registered attendees – mostly IT sector employees, students and tech enthusiasts.

Echoing and building on this sentiment, Gord noted that while “non-creative and non-empathetic jobs would be replaced sooner, those professions will eventually be automated as well with the increasing transparency and reliability of machine to machine communication”.

Gord, who earlier in the day delivered a keynote address titled ‘Tech Disruption – Opportunities & Threats’, also predicted that livelihoods in general will be made obsolete. “A guaranteed universal basic income will be the norm in the future,” he said.

The day-long event saw leading innovators deliver seminars and workshops on a range of topics, including future trends in Data Management, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, User Experience, Blockchain technology, Mixed Reality and Internet of Things. Running in parallel to the sessions were live demonstrations of home-grown virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality and bionics products by a number of startup firms.


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