Jumping the Loops: Internet of Things

The first man to download files from the cloud using a tablet was Moses. As depicted by the cartoonist below! According to the Bible, Exodus 34:1, the Ten Commandments were handed down to Moses on two tablets, pieces of stone.

The world has moved from ‘using one’s head’ to the ‘internet of thing’ (IOT). What on earth is that? IOT can be understood as computing devices embedded in everyday objects that are connected to each other through the internet!  These devices can send and receive messages, for example Alexa, and interact with other such devise, for example a smart television. I am not an expert, but it does seem that some of these devices, even the smartphone, can listen to your conversation and act accordingly. Have you ever wondered why certain advertisements appear on your various social media platforms just after you were discussing a similar issue with a friend in your drawing room?

Children today wonder what their parents did without all these devices. Well, you ‘used your head’! Not that long ago I wrote my Ph.D. thesis on paper ‘by hand’ and did computations of my data on a ‘programmable’ calculator. A secretary typed out the thesis on a typewriter. Every time he made a mistake, he had to retype the entire page. And for entertainment we listened to the radio, ‘Vividh Bharathi’! Or a little later, watched television on the only available government owned black and white channel, ‘Doordarshan’. And believe me, we were never bored! We read books, novels, comic books and were entertained.

Our schools had libraries. They still have I guess. We had an alloted period for the library once a week and we actually borrowed and read books. It will not be long before the school librarian would have to tell the children how to read a book. ‘Instead of powering it up, you just turn the cover. And instead of clicking on ‘next page’ you just turn the page..’ Simple!

Library in School

How do you teach children to read a book, when parents themselves are engrossed full time with the smartphone? It is possible that there may come a time when humans are stuck with hand held devices while the new age robots are found reading a book! And little robots are enjoying drawing and colouring!

The new subjects of great interest are machine learning and artificial intelligence. But to understand that one needs to learn basic Mathematics, Statistics and programming. One could surely wait till children get to college for this? But the new fashion is to teach children ‘almost when in their diapers’ to code. A popular advertise we see is: ‘WhiteHat Jr: Live coding for kids’!! Article by Amrita Dutta, ‘Jumping through the Loops’ puts it well: ‘Coding is pitched as the new interactive playground for children’. Our playground was the park or football field outside, or in cities like Kolkata, the entire ground floor garage space!

Now we live in fear of losing our jobs to robots running on artificial intelligence. And worse, having robots instead of humans for companionship (See review of Klara and the Sun here). This is the scenario when we do not seem to have sufficient jobs with the youth bulge. Demographic dividend it is called.

Winnie the Pooh and Piglet have got it right: ‘All we did today was smelling the flowers and watching the clouds! And glad we did not waste any time’! What a joy to find time ‘Oh, To Stand and Stare’! Remember the famous poem we read in school by W.H Davies:
“What is this life, if full of care, 
We have no time to stand and stare”.

So dear friends: forget about jumping the loops and IOT. It is just as important to take time to ‘Just Stand and Stare’!

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