Thursday, Mar 23, 2023 03:45 [IST]

Last Update: Thursday, Mar 23, 2023 22:10 [IST]

Will technology dictate our future?

A recent viral news has been circulating in both traditional and social media platforms about a school in Bangaluru is initiating the use of robotics and Artificial Intelligence for teaching their students. The news has captured both positive as well as negative views of the netizens and broader audience; sone seems to appreciate the grand success of technology into our life while others criticizing it. Some have targeted the process of technology as our path to self-destruction and unemployment and social injustice. Many others have pointed fingers to the face that we are completely immersed in innovative technology that is taking over our intellect, emotions and empathy towards nature and society. Some has even pointed to our cultural and intellectual suicide due to adoption of robotics and Artificial Intelligence. Therefore, it is quite important for us to understand this crisis of culture and life from a broad perspective.

Obviously human teachers cannot be replaced by application of advanced robotics and Artificial Intelligence. This may aid the teachers in performing their duties, as done by computers and software. But can they fully replace them in the classrooms or lecture rooms? Our students always need cheering and boosting to excel in their career paths rather than just empowering them with mechanical knowledge. Sometimes it really feels tiring for the environment around us and we fail to find suitable sustainable solutions to solve our problems. Let us take this short lecture on Kathak as it is taught to our students:

“Kathak is one of the eight Indian classical dance that has its origin from the modern Indian states Uttar Pradesh (erstwhile United Province of British India). It has evolved through many years under various experts and is known for its elegant style, design and colourful costumes. Kathak as a performance art has survived and thrived as an oral tradition, innovated, and taught from one generation to another verbally and through practice. The Mughal emperors of medieval India were the greatest patrons of Kathak, that evolved greatly between 16th-17th centuries. It was the official dance performed in the royal courts of the Mughals and included Central Asian and Persian instruments and styles embedded within its unique Indian style. The origin of Kathak is traditionally attributed to the traveling groups in ancient northern India known as Kathakars (storytellers). These storytellers communicated stories from the Hindu epics and ancient mythology through dance, songs and music.

Kathak has three distinct "gharanas" (styles) namely, Jaipur, Banaras and Lucknow. Jaipur style focuses on the foot movements; while the Banaras and Lucknow styles emphasizes on facial expressions along with the elegant movements of hands. This dance highlights upon use of rhythmic foot movements, adorned with ‘numerous tiny bells’ (gungroo) harmonized to the music. In Kathak, the story is narrated via unique gestures of arms and upper body movements, facial expressions, neck, eyes and eyebrow movements, stage movements, bends and turns.” (Summarized from Wikipedia).

No wonder the above piece is a very good information source, packed with data, examples and brain busters. But one can see that the much-needed humanitarian part is missing. It only has the dry content; but the connectivity to our social and cultural background is missing. The example is provided to appreciate the role of proper teaching in the classroom that aids in the process of learning, understanding and appreciating the topic, content as well as the context of what we learn and understand in the classroom environment. Can a high powered robot and Artificial Intelligence provide such love, care, attention and empathy for the learners while teaching? Kathak is not just a piece of information for the students; but a great national heritage that each of us should be very proud of inheriting from our forefathers. Our present lies in the ashes of our past; and our future lies on the ground we touch today with our own feet. This realization of the crude realities of life and similar perspectives are important to our core learning system. If technology starts regulating every arena of teaching and learning process, we will soon become the slaves of the technology. The same robotics that genius humanforests discovered and developed seem to be the controlling factor of our life and destiny in the not-so-distant future.

The impact of technology is not just restricted to our mental capacity only; but also, negatively impacts the health of our next generation. Today juvenile diabetes, obesity, hypertension, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, strokes and cardiac arrests are widely reported among young kids, teenagers, and young professionals in large numbers. The important factor has been too much adoption of technology into our lifestyle thereby by restricting our much needed, normal and spontaneous movements. This has been specifically making our next and younger generations into couch potatoes; dependent on expensive medication. This is because our children do not go to the fields to play anymore, but rather enjoy their time by simply playing virtual games, watching movies and chatting or texting with others online. This destructive culture is slowly taking our next generation towards our socio-cultural and intellectual demise.

We need to understand that when a new being is born; everything changes. The world grows, hearts get full, and life means more because we interact with one another through multiple platforms and media outlets. A society is defined not only by what it creates, but by what it refuses to destroy. In a conventional class we teach students protect the living beings of this planet, encouraging them to strategize sustainable plans to protect wildlife, forests, biodiversity, soil, air and water, and in fact we train them to think in positive terms to think about how to protect human society, culture and dignity. Can the new Artificial Intelligence and advanced robotics teach the students such necessary ethics and values as well as morality to the young learners who are starting with a blank page in their brain? They train the students with knowledge and information at the blink of the eyelid; but can such an artificial system generate humanity and compassion among the learners? Or, we are moving towards transforming our new generations into emotionless and empathy less humanoid robots?

It is good to welcome new technology, mainly if it is beneficial for the students. But who will make lesson plan, lesson note, question paper? Who will check answer sheets? Make result cards? And conduct open house? Who will do activities? Who will accompany in field trips? Who will make birthday cards, well- done cards for students? Who will evaluate students daily, monthly or yearly? Who will make timetable? Who will take care of students' tiffin time? Who will take care of sick students and give intimation to parents? Who will look after the discipline of students? Who will conduct assembly? Who will do endless duties of the school?  School teachers are not only the teachers, they are the mothers/fathers of the students at school in their formative years. No Robot can replace a teacher. It's a tough job. Lastly, handling growing school students needs an emotion which a robot cannot provide. Therefore, the genuine and unbiased food for thought is that we need to think about this highly sensitive issue with impartial objectivity from the lens of reality from different perspectives.


Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi