Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Convergence of technology

Recently the President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam gave a speech during the laying of foundation stone for the International Institute of Information Technology at Bhubaneswar. It is a remarkably clear and wide-ranging speech about emerging technologies and their impact on the world.

Some quotes:
The information technology and communication technology have already converged leading to Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Information Technology combined with bio-technology has led to bio-informatics. Now, Nanotechnology is knocking at our doors. It is the field of the future that will replace microelectronics and many fields with tremendous application potential in the areas of medicine, electronics and material science. When Nanotechnology and ICT meet, integrated silicon electronics, photonics are born and it can be said that material convergence will happen. With material convergence and biotechnology linked, a new science called Intelligent Bioscience will be born which would lead to a disease free, happy and more intelligent human habitat with longevity and high human capabilities.

Convergence of bio-nano-info technologies can lead to the development of nano robots. Nano robots when they are injected into a patient, my expert friends say, will diagnose and deliver the treatment exclusively in the affected area and then the nano robot gets digested as it is a DNA based product. Convergence of ICT, aerospace and nanotechnologies will emerge and revolutionize the aerospace industry. This technological convergence will enable building of cost effective low weight, high payload, and highly reliable aerospace systems, which can be used for inter-planetary transportation.
He talks about emerging sciences like bioinformatics, nanotechnology, alternative energy sources etc. and even goes into details of futuristic applications like Nanorobots, Gene Chip and Carbon Nanotubes. He goes on to mention Richard Feyman (referenced earlier here and here), Eric Drexler and CNR Rao as some of the pioneers of these fields. What struck me here is the technicality of a speech coming from the president of a country. Of course him formerly being a scientist helps.

He also makes a point which I find controversial:
[Economic prosperity] has to be complimented with the value systems and our five thousand years old Civilizational heritage which has genetically shaped the Indian people.
I think 5000 years is probably too less a time to genetically imbibe us with any kind of a "civilizational heritage" given then fact that in the past 5000 years we were anything but an isolated civilization. But then being the president of a country, I guess he has to infuse some nationalism into his speeches.

Read the full speech here.

All in all it's an amazing speech coming from the head of the state of any country. Sadly for all of us he is but a titular head.

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