Third edition of Global Technology Summit focused on striking the right balance between technology and society
The mindboggling pace at which technology is evolving globally is an exciting prospect and a challenge too. The world has seen how communication technology has changed the way humans live, work, communicate and spend their leisure time. The strides made by innovations in health care, education, food production, travel and defence applications have been equally exciting.
At the same time, the speed with which technology is innovating raises ethical concerns too. While gene mapping and pharmaceutical research has helped in medical treatment, genetic engineering has led to concerns too. Communication revolution was a tool to bring about free access to information, such as internet, but at the same time, it has led to worries about intrusion into personal spaces. Genetically modified food promises to meet the challenge of the burgeoning population the world over, and yet there are fears that it can lead to unforeseen mutations. Defence research has always been a matter of concern, with technology looking to new ways of mass destruction under the guise of weapons for legitimate defence. Space research to find life elsewhere is always fraught with the danger of attracting hostile forms of life elsewhere in the space, a warning sounded by none other than Prof. Stephen Hawking.
Many of these questions were debated at last year’s Carnegie Global Summit held in Bengaluru. The summit opened on December 18 with welcome remarks by Rudra Chaudhri, Director Carnegie India and Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Managing Director, Biocon. This was followed by a keynote address by A. Gitesh Sarma, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs (GOI).
“Science can create, it can improve, it can heal but science can also destroy,” warned Sarma. “It has been said that a Smith and Wesson makes all men equal so why deny a Smith and Wesson to the others”, he argued adding that technology should not be selectively denied to nations. Sarma said that it was important for India to be part of all dialogue processes connected to the International Technology Regime.
Sarma also spoke about the adverse effects of know-how in the hands of troublemakers and pointed out that “knowledge must not be passed down to the wrong hands.” He lauded India’s efforts to become part of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and its inclusion in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the WASSENAAR Arrangement and the Australia Group.
The bureaucrat also alluded to Mahatma Gandhi who once said, ‘The world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed’. He stressed that it was vital for humanity to live in harmony with the environment and accept the dangers of climate change.
The first module was titled ‘Technology and Diplomacy’ and was chaired by C. Raja Mohan, Director, Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore. Gitesh Sarma, Henri Verdier, Ambassador for Digital Affairs, France and Ariel Levite of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace debated the crucial aspect of technology and how it impacted diplomacy.
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