We human beings are going to be in a frantic footrace with smart machines to stay relevant. [What] we’re going to have to do well are those things which are uniquely human, such as our ability to create, innovate and relate at the highest emotional levels with other humans. We can’t stay relevant by trying to outthink Watson.
Watson can process, remember and recall much more information than us. What we’ve got to do is to play to our strengths. The problem is that we are not naturally good at high-level thinking, whether it’s critical, innovative or creative [thinking]. And because of our cultural and evolutionary biology, we’re not good at connecting and relating with others.
This is a new story about how humans can thrive in the smart machine age. It begins with [the concept of] New Smart… from school on, we were trained to get high grades —high grades meant you were smart. How did you get high grades? You don’t make mistakes. Smart is basically, “I knew more things than you. I got more right answers. I remembered more things.”
Smart was a quantity concept. Well, that’s a losing game. When knowledge has a short shelf life and smart machines can remember and process more than us, New Smart says, “Define yourself as the quality of your thinking, listening, relating and collaborating. [Those are] the key behaviours that are necessary to think critically, innovatively and to collaborate with other people.”
From: Why Smart Machines Will Boost Emotional Intelligence
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches this week in parliament revolved around corruption. His defence of demonetisation and the observation that public discourse today is about recovery of black money have their roots in popular belief that corruption is the biggest economic problem for India today. This popular belief does not quite square with informed opinion. Typically, corruption is inversely related to income. The poorer the country, higher the incidence of corruption. In this context, Transparency International’s corruption perception index shows that India’s corruption ranking is better than its peer group in per capita income. This should trigger a more nuanced conversation on corruption.
It is no one’s case that corruption is benign. It is unfair to honest people and represents a hidden and unpredictable tax. But incidence of corruption is best reduced by tackling root causes. For instance, a bribe taker’s power stems from being endowed with discretionary power and an opaque structure. In India, governments with their enormous control over levers of power and distribution of humongous resources have a structure which encourages corruption. It is also important to keep in mind that redressal in this system depends on an overburdened judiciary. Hence it is not surprising to find many disputes trapped in a legal maze for years
The outcome of this systemic flaw is that criminals-turned-politicians gain public legitimacy as people who can get things done in an otherwise unresponsive governance system. A solution, therefore, has to involve significant changes in India’s governance structure. Here, India seems to follow a trajectory which involves a step forward in one area and a step back elsewhere. For example, if natural resources are increasingly allocated through transparent auctions, other arms of government such as tax authorities are granted more discretionary power. The battle against corruption needs a more coherent and strategic approach.
To begin with, there have to be consistent moves towards reducing discretionary powers with government. Simultaneously, transparency in government operations and service delivery must be enhanced. India’s stretched judiciary must be bolstered as weak redressal encourages abuse of power by officials and regulators. The positive spinoff will be ease of carrying out any kind of economic activity. The push towards greater cash transfer must continue. Once people are assured of their rights, the need to pay a bribe will disappear.
They say the history of ancient India is shrouded in mystery. A few Rajasthan ministers appear to have taken this dictum to heart to give their own spin to history. According to these learned luminaries – health minister Kalicharan Saraf, school education minister Vasudev Devnani, and urban development and housing minister Rajpal Singh Shekhawat – Rajput warrior-king Maharana Pratap actually won the battle of Haldighati against the Mughal army of Akbar.
Now, this is truly a brilliant insight. History is like those fun science fiction movies, where one can constantly travel back to the past to rearrange it. Never mind boring old pedants who point out that not just historical accounts but even folk ballads – including those sympathetic to Maharana Pratap – aver that the battle of Haldighati resulted in a Rajput retreat. Rajasthan ministers see Akbar as a foreign invader and Maharana Pratap as a brave patriot, sidestepping the trivial detail that India did not exist as a country back then. By the ministers’ logic, the streams of history and literature can be merged. If which case, why stop at Haldighati? Let’s go the whole hog. The Mughals never ruled in India; they were guests of Hindu kings who took the principle of atithi devo bhava way too seriously. And Subhas Chandra Bose was the first Prime Minister of India.
No doubt mixing history, fiction, politics and popular sentiments is an addictive game. And the other side too gets to concoct their own potion when they are in power, never mind that schoolchildren end up thoroughly confused. However, the key question that needs to be asked is: why are we so fixated on historical fights that took place half a millennium ago, when there are modern battles to fight against poverty, illiteracy, corruption and so on?