On-Going Technological Revolution and Pakistan | Abubakar Farooqui | Head Rationale-47 Rationale-47

Abubakar Farooqui

This article is not just for the policy makers of the country who are sitting in the power corridors in Islamabad, it is also for the general audience and hence I will not pursue my writing style that many are familiar with. It is particularly because of the fact that the situation is grave and we need to reach more and more people to create a better understanding of what is coming ahead. I would like to appreciate the work of of Pakistan Intellectuals Society, a team of young Pakistani intellectuals that is working for spreading awareness regarding digitalization in Pakistan, so if you are more into watching speakers and understanding in Urdu language, please do consult it.

All of us know of the great industrial revolution that followed after scientific revolution that changed how humans lived their lives. This was the first time machines found their places in our daily lives and significantly increased the efficiency of our work, in other words our working capacity. This was the last great technological revolution we had. The 21st century, however, is producing another revolution of such calibre that is once again going to mechanize the way we live our lives. How is this revolution going to be different from the industrial revolution back in the 18th century?

The 18th century revolution introduced steam engine, mass production and its later phases marked a revolution with introduction of digital technology. This new revolution we are about to witness is going to change the way we live our lives as human beings as artificial intelligence is going to be the central point of this new revolution. Human beings have been trying since at least late 1970s to make machines learn and evolve. Humans have also been working on enhancing the capacity of machines by introducing reasoning ability in them so they could find solutions for human problems. Decades of work has created space for the Artificial Intelligence Revolution that is finally knocking our doors. The science fiction of early 20th century is turning finally into reality in the 21st century. To get an understanding of where we are headed as an entire human race, let us look into some major aspects of this new technological revolution.

Artificial Intelligence

Most of us are already familiar with the term and those who are not, at least use some features of artificial intelligence in their daily lives. In developing countries like Pakistan, artificial intelligence is not only being used but is gradually creating and expanding its space. An example is of google maps, Uber that help us find locations and track our rides. Iphone users in Pakistan must be familiar with their virtual assistant Siri that is artificially intelligent. Android users similarly are familiar with Google Assistant that is much more artificially intelligent than Siri. Alexa of Amazon also serves as a virtual assistant and is very popular among Amazon customers. Replika is also one of such apps that are being used for free even in Pakistan that can not only think for you, talk to you but also learn from you and use the learned information to communicate with you in solving your problems. However, this new revolution is going to be much greater than the above mentioned examples.

GPT-3 is the latest version of a language model that uses artificial intelligence to generate human-like texts. GPT-3 by a company Open AI which features Elon Musk as one of its co-founders that many might already be familiar with. This language module has algorithms that makes it learn from across the globe interactions and is capable of expressing emotions such as happiness and sadness, etc. If you are interested in knowing how GPT-3 thinks and what its ideas are regarding solving human problems, then there is an interview of it available on the internet in which the module speaks to the host and expresses his ideas and what it thinks machines should or would do. Amazingly, it suggested the title of the video to the host for human audience to generate better understanding of artificial intelligence. This is just an example of where we are headed.

What this means is artificially intelligent machines, when produced in abundance, will find their places in our daily lives just like engines find their place in almost every household today in the form of cars, bikes, etc. This also means that many of the jobs that are currently being done by the humans will be done by artificially intelligence modules including robots. This is inevitable because many professions that are currently being pursued by humans such as surgeons, nurses, cashiers, bartenders, receptionists, etc, will fall victim to AI modules which may do things more precisely and accurately. The scope of AI programmers is going to witness a tremendous expansion.

Crypto Currency

Crypto Currency like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Ether are changing the way economies have conventionally operated at least for the last 100 years. Crypto-currency is a digital asset that makes transactions across the globe more transparent and easier. Most of the countries do not allow cryptocurrency because it evades state control of the market, however it is growing with every passing day and we are not far from the day when countries will gradually have to embrace it because of it being popular on the ground among people. Blockchain is the digital database that records the track of all transactions of the cryptocurrency in almost real time or live and makes it more transparent. Blockchain can also maintain record of data such as votes, medical records etc. while updating it live.

Technological Gods

This is the special part of the article for which I have been trying to make ground for in the previous paragraphs. You already read above how this new digital revolution is going to fundamentally change human’s life, it will also make it possible for humans to do things using technology that has hitherto been considered almost impossible for any human. In other words, using artificial intelligence, machine learning and genetic engineering (making changes in genes to strengthen human body’s capabilities and features), humans will attempt to become super humans, which a popular book by an Israeli scholar Yuval Noah Harari named “Homo Deus” sheds light upon in-depth. Harari’s thesis is that human beings are heading towards evolution of their species which will make them acquire god-like capabilities using digital technology and more specifically genetic engineering. If that happens, which has already begun as such experiments are being conducted regularly across the globe on humans in one way or the other, will mean that such humans will be way more powerful both physically and intellectually than those who are not capable of updating themselves with similar technological upgrades.

Human being is by nature a conqueror, an ambitious being whose mind does not sit back and relax after achieving something significant. Being a student of cosmology, I would like to quote here the example of Albert Einstein who revolutionized the world of physics entirely with his general theory of relativity but he did not stop there. He worked to formulate a theory of everything that would find the missing link between Quantum theory and his own theory which he believed was not yet complete. In other words, we can say that human beings always continue to move forward and every achievement serves as just a milestone in an infinite journey of progress. When we agree to all this, we must also understand that such super-human technological gods, which have in one way started to exist in our lives, are not sitting back and relaxing after creating their technological empires. One of the dilemmas of power is it creates thirst for more power and this is exactly what is happening. The superhuman technological gods in the future will continue the quest to govern everything and become god-like. Since, science has not gotten along well with many of the religions, the technological gods are bound to be devoid of religious ideologies. When religion is subtracted from the debate of ethics, everything becomes subjective to human rationality that itself is relative. What may be wrong for you on rational grounds, others may be calling it a landmark for humanity on their rational grounds.

Pakistan, an Islamic state with an ideology and vision, is our hope for not only providing safety and security to its citizens and Muslims across the globe but also to the entire humanity. We have a vision and ideology of our own that is the only antidote for the quest for unlimited power being pursued by humans devoid of religious beliefs. For this very reason, in the entire Muslim world, the onus is on Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia and Arab nations to collaborate together to prepare Muslims for this impending digital revolution that is going to shake the human lifestyle and even values. Islam is rising in numbers and statistical experts believe that it will become the world’s largest religion by 2050, but this is not enough. Numerical superiority does not equate to defense against technological gods or Homo deus. To prevent human against catastrophe, Muslim world has to produce its own homo deus. Power can only be countered with power and a certain dimension of power needs a counter in that very dimension. IR students can visualize this by imagining the impossibility of victory for a military far superior numerically to its adversary but does not have an air force or does not have intelligence information that the adversary enjoys.

We Got Some Work to Do

Pakistan is a country of intelligent people who are very creative and are capable of doing great things. We have world’s seventh largest pool of doctors and engineers in the globe that is not an ordinary thing. All we need is clarity of objectives and direction. The youth of this country has enormous potential, which if directed well, can lead Pakistan to a great success in the coming digital revolution. All we have to do is spread awareness, collaborate one another for our startups and work on our own using internet to empower ourselves. The government on the other hand has a very serious responsibility and that is to create it easier for people to understand new technologies especially artificial intelligence, crypto-currency and blockchain. Pakistani government took a great initiative in this regard by launching Presidential Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Computing (PIAIC) for quality training of Pakistani youth on cloud computing, Artificial intelligence, block-chain and Internet of Things. We have not discussed cloud computing and internet of things in this article to make stuff easier for our readers to understand and comprehend and leave it for another blog. Our youth is positive and I am sure we can do wonders not just for our country but the entire humanity in this new technological revolution.

About The Author
Abubakar Farooqui is the brains behind Rationale-47. He Studied International Relations at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. His areas of interest include National Security of Pakistan and International Politics, particularly of South Asia and Middle East. He tweets @AbubakarTweets

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of Rationale-47.

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