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Thoughts on Technology

Every now and then, it hits you that all this technological advance mumbo-jumbo that we’ve been doing is actually improving people’s lives. Today was one such day. My uncle and his wife are both unfortunately deaf and dumb, though their daughter (my cousin) thankfully is not. When taking said uncle to pick his wife up from the airport today, he showed me, with absolute joy, how they could communicate via SMS. In their own way, they had regained a mode of communication.

This brings up the long-running theme of conversations that I’ve had the privilege of sharing with Prof. Gaurav Raina - who was (and still is) instrumental to the launch of mobile payments in India. I can hear his words (paraphrased of course), “It’s not the obvious benefits of paperless money - micro-credit, etc., but the uses, what it will enable, that nobody has thought of yet that I’m eager to hear about”. I think to an extent this re-enabling of communication may have been one amazing ‘side-effect’ of cellphones.

Of course, these thoughts lead to a long standing thought-chain of mine - “What will my role in the future be?” Deep philosophical interpretations aside, to paraphrase 1 Raina again, we belong to a generation that is simultaneously empowered and responsible. I’ve been, for a long time, trying to figure out how my interests in machine learning (a.k.a. applied statistics), can be applied to take our country forward 2. I know these thoughts have sparked an interest in teaching (because at least I can help enable others to do something). Currently, I’m only aware of uses that “make more money”, but I’m on-the-lookout for better applications to these tools (and well, in the worst case, people making money isn’t that bad now is it?).

  1. You know, because I don’t remember anything verbatim anyways…

  2. These introspections have always had a patriotic edge to them, and I think that’s a good thing.