Role of Science & Technology in 21st Century: “Why does this magnificent applied science which saves work and makes life easier bring us so little happiness? The simple answer runs: Because we have not yet learned to make sensible use of it”. ALBERT EINSTEIN, in an address at Cal Tech, 1931. (Harper)
India now ranks third in terms of the most attractive investment destinations for technology transactions globally, which definitely infers that scientific realms in India have progressed a lot. In the 21st Century, India has found its place amongst the top countries in scientific research. For instance, in space exploration, with its moon missions and Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), India has climbed up in the top five nations for space research globally.
In terms of market size, the expenditure in research and development has reached US$ 96.50 billion in 2020, with almost 2% country’s GDP share. India has introduced various funding policies that empower the nation to improve its key strategic industries, including space, energy, and the life sciences. Energy is one of India’s growing areas, which is currently receiving a considerable extent of focus. The Indian scientist has recently collaborated with the United States on an Indo-US initiative called the Solar Energy Research Institute for India (funded through the US-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy.
The twenty-first century has also seen a boom in various technology business incubators that plans to grow budding ideas, thus connecting ideation to commercialization. In terms of the burgeoning artificial intelligence, India has made progress with the inception of the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy (NITI Aayog), thereby paving the way for exploring the potential of artificial intelligence.
Although we have access to funding for scientific developments, education should also evolve simultaneously to complement the scientific shooting. China graduates some 20,000 PhDs annually, and India must develop its educational thrust to compete with these countries. Programs such as the Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) program has accelerated the growth of quality scientists post-2000, thereby raising the question- ‘Can we improve this further?’
In India, a majority of the students opt for technology rather than studying basic sciences due to the lucrative industrial career opportunities. India needs to work on this part to inspire and motivate young talents to take up basic sciences, thereby driving the country’s primary research thurst.
With the focus on Science, India is progressively marching towards becoming a global leader in industrialization and technological development. The advent of nanotechnology in India shall also result in not only the biomedical sector but also the nuclear sector to evolve. India’s new plan, called Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy 2020, plans to promote Science more effectively and experts-driven. As both challenges and hope lie ahead for India, our developments’ optimism shall steer our spotlight from ‘challenges’ to ‘hope’ soon.
“Technically, it’s the science that is running the world.”
While both of them make sense, we cannot forget science and technology is the most important tool in the toolbox of those who are actually running the world.
The entire concept of science and technological advancement is not just an integral part of today’s world, rather it is the foundation of the advanced world we are part of today and the world we wish to build tomorrow. Science and technological advancement is the major key for development in fields like economy, health, education, communication, entertainment, and every field we can possibly think of. The modern approach for the study of history and “theology and science” is emerging fields that give a scientific approach to fields like history, culture, and religion. On a superficial level, we assume that there might be no connection of science with these fields but a systematic and knowledge-based approach is what we need to prove otherwise.
In today’s world, science is not just a course and technology is not just the gadgets we use or the digital world we are part of. Science and technology are interdisciplinary fields that have the power to assist and work together with different aspects of life. Living in a world surrounded by technological advancement where we are astonished by new scientific discoveries every day, it would be sheer ignorance to deny the power of science and technology.
There are many factors that are adversely impacting our world. This includes pollution, global warming, unsustainable development, epidemics, pandemics, lack of social life among youths and the list continues to go on. Every time we try to have a discussion about these problems, there will always be one person who will say, “All this is because of technological advancement.” Though this is a vague argument it is quite popular.
Science and technology are not the problems; rather how we decided to use this technology determines the consequences. For instance, the invention and development of vehicles were not the problems but their unsustainable use surely is.
Innovation in the field of computer science and development of the internet was not the problem but using them to harm someone or breach their privacy is the problem. It all boils down to how we decide to use these advancements.
The role of science and technology in the world is ever-changing. With the increase in challenges in both the real and digital world, new discoveries and inventions will continue to develop and get commercialized. Today’s concern is not just developing gadgets or equipment to make our life easier, there are challenges that we have to overcome which are the consequences of our actions in the past. This includes global issues like global warming, overconsumption of resources, lack of privacy, and so on. And, no matter what these problems can only be mitigated when we acknowledge the importance of science and technology and utilize them effectively.
Improving fields like machine learning and artificial intelligence are the tools for creating a sustainable world. Effective use of these fields is a must to make the world a better place. Let’s take an example, I am an environmentalist and I live in a heavily polluted city. I decided to reduce the pollution in the city. There can be various approaches to this problem. One of the most general and popular approaches can be conducting an awareness program urging people to be responsible.
Another approach can be collecting data about the status of the pollution in the city, building a machine learning model, visualizing those data, and presenting a viable prediction about the status of the city in a few months or few years. This is just a simple example where machine learning is used for the presentation of a problem. Being able to use these tools can be handy to identify problems, present their adversity, and plays an important role to make people responsible and responsive to solve them.
The effective role of data science in the field of health care is undeniable. Analyzing medical images, improving diagnostics accuracy, advancement in pharmaceutical researches can be assisted by the help of data science. It has contributed to making this process easy, inexpensive, and reliable.
Appropriate utilization of vast amounts of health data contributes to making effective decisions and advancement in the field of health care. It will be near to impossible to do these things without science and technology.
These are just simple instances of the power science give us when applied properly. We have a rich culture and history. Concepts taught in Ayurveda that date back to 6,000 BCE are being proved today with scientific facts, logistics, and evidence. Herbs like tulsi, turmeric, garlic, ginger are vital parts of our day to day diet for centuries. But, their scientific importance has been discovered in recent days. Ayurveda had explained everything about the human bodies, its capabilities, its needs. We weren’t able to decipher the knowledge it gave for decades. But now, there are institutions, research centers that work to understand those scripts, prove those claims. Instead of blindly following the rituals and traditions we were taught, now we have scientific research to back them. Eastern culture is rich and dates back to thousands of years, now by the use of natural language processing tools, scientific researches, and other mediums we are actually learning from our origin and ancestors. This is an important impact science has made our rituals and culture widely acceptable and also logical.
From understanding our history to exploring the galaxy, science and technology are everywhere. There was a time when humans thought, “ The Earth is the center of the world and it is flat.” That was a time and today we have images of black holes rendering in space stations. We have come a long way. The universe is still mysterious. There are still many things out there that can astonish us.
Science and technology still need to advance a lot. We still need to build technology that will assist to prove theories and mathematical equations that are ahead of technology. Now the world is eagerly waiting for the advancement of quantum computing. Quantum computing will revolutionize everything in the world today by exponentially increasing computing power. This field has the capability of solving problems like simulating nature, modeling complex algorithms that are beyond the power of classical computers.
The importance and involvement of science and technology in fields like education, communication, entertainment is known to all and normal in today’s world. Our day to day life is a clear example of the impact science and technology has in these fields. But, limiting their potentiality to these fields only is equal to limiting our creativity and ignoring the applicability of science and technology. Being comfortable using advanced technologies and understanding the multi-dimensional ability of science is what we need to excel in the field we are passionate about. We need to treat science and technology as tools that prepare us for the journey we want to take.
Thus, science and technology have the ability to blend in with every discipline of life. Globalization and digitalization have made it possible for us to explore the world from any corner. Within a short period of about two decades, the world has completely altered from what it used to be. The pace with which technology is advancing is exponential. As human beings continue to try and make this world a better place, science and technology will act as our helping hands. They will play the most important role to give the imagination of human beings a physical form. Everything from artificial intelligence to self-driving cars begins their journey in someone’s imagination and starts advancing when that imagination is backed by science and technology. So, you want to know what role science and technology will play? Ask your imagination, what you want to build, and what role you want them to play?