Saturday, April 9, 2011

A world without computers

In 1943 when Thomas Watson the then Chairman of IBM contemplated a market for just 5 computers across the globe or when Bill Gates in 1983 saw no advantage for the graphic user interphase little did they foresee like many others of the coming digital age. Newer advances in computer and informatics as also its applications cut across the whole spectrum of science, industry and our own existence as never before contemplated. The applications and trends appear almost every day that have relevance ranging from applications in medicine and engineering to aerospace and electronics. But as yet the man behind the machine is still more important half a century after what John F. Kennedy once said in 1963 ‘Man is still the most extraordinary computer of all’. These ominous words still echo the extraordinary evolution and revolution that humans drive considering the fascinating possibilities in a technotronic age where computers and informatics already drive an increasingly flattened world around us.
Ironically in India we have not yet grasped the realization that the Universities have to react quickly to the trends that have to be driven by the needs of a growing digital society. In the past it is true that Universities in general have not necessarily been the places where excessive progress has taken place in the arena of computing and informatics. Many academics are rather conservative and not willing to take part in cutting edge research to bring about promising new development unless they are fully convinced of the benefits. Unlike the more or less other established subjects, the overall penetration of computing and informatics in the Universities particularly in the developing world and in India is still at a nascent stage.
Themes varied and exciting that emerge every day, can be best gauged from any of the Murphy laws that circulate in the cyber world “any running program is obsolete“or “number one cause of computer problems is the solution”. How true when you refer to hitherto unknown new topics and trends that we see today such as evolutionary and auto computing, high performance networking, network security, mobile and cloud computing, image processing, soft computing, knowledge discovery, data mining and warehousing, intelligent systems, internet and web technologies, wireless and mobile computing, network security, high performance networking, program paradigms, multimedia & animations, VLSI and embedded systems. It is a wonder that human health landscape has virtually been revolutionized by newer techniques of computer aided drug designing, bioinformatics, bio imaging techniques, recombinant DNA technology as also the science of imagery, GIS and geo spatial planning as also agri informatics hold exceptional promise and opportunities for research and commercialization particularly in the developing world. Autonomic and trusted computing is a new umbrella reference to Cyberspace Security, Infrastructure Security, Models & Semantic of Trusts, Cyber law, Privacy and anonymity, Forensics as also Trustworthy Internet that have evolved more due to the emerging threat of cyber thefts and the security hazards that we confront today.
Incidentally I came across the phrase recently, ‘Alice in digitaland’ in a reference to the extraordinarily digitized world of today. Ironically enough, a world without computers is perhaps as distant to the human race as a world without water.

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