4IR and Technological Challenges

Hiren Pandit:Technology is changing very rapidly due to the fourth industrial revolution. This impact of technology is far-reaching. It can open doors to possibilities yet bring new challenges. The gap between rich and poor countries may widen. Jobs will be divided into unskilled-low-paid and highly-skilled-high-paid – in these categories, skilled people will get jobs, and unskilled people may become unemployed. The technology of implanting chips in the human body has come out. In the future, chips implanted in the body can provide various health data. However, chips may compromise people’s privacy. These smart devices could spell bad news for Bangladesh, especially the garment industry. About 60 lakh workers work in this sector.
Dependence on these workers will be reduced by using robots and smart devices. Many workers may become unemployed. Not only the garment industry, dependence on many other professions will decrease, and the use of robots and machines will increase. When driverless cars are introduced, the driver’s job will also become redundant. There is a lot of research into driverless cars in the developed world. Driverless cars are expected to be relatively safe and efficient. Besides, they will reduce traffic jams and pollution. Many drivers in our country will lose their jobs. On the other hand, the need for talent-based professions such as programmers, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), etc. will increase.
There is a shortage of skilled programmers in our country. It will be a big challenge. We need to develop skilled programmers. A lot of data is being generated now due to digitization. Our smart cars are getting data on where we are going and how much time we spend. Our bank account, mobile wallet, and credit card can account for our expenses. Smartphones and smart TVs have data on what we are watching. These data could not be saved earlier. Now, storing in the cloud is easy and inexpensive. Due to the fast-processing power, the computer will analyze these data efficiently and help make decisions. Computers are being given artificial intelligence. AI can make decisions by analyzing data based on previous situations. The computer is first trained and then can guess a pattern. As a result, the computer can recognize the subject by color, size, and posture later. Currently, any transaction is recorded in a ledger.
This ledger is stored centrally. The ledger in the blockchain is distributed among all participants. As a result, the risk of fraud will be reduced. Each transaction creates a block. It connects to the previous block to form a chain. It is not just financial transactions on the blockchain; there can be records of exchange, including contracts and land deeds. The introduction of blockchain will reduce a lot of middlemen’s work. In the face of the fourth industrial revolution, the information technology sector of Bangladesh has emphasized various infrastructural developments including the development of skilled human resources. Bangladesh strives to be among the top 50 countries in the United Nations e-Governance Development Index for the next five years.
5 initiatives of Digital Bangladesh have been internationally acclaimed. These are Digital Centre, Service Innovation Fund, Compassion Training, TCV, and SDG Tracker. With the help of information technology, young people are creating small-scale IT firms, e-commerce sites, app-based services, and other companies. Besides, some significant achievements in space, including the Bangabandhu satellite of Bangladesh, have taken Bangladesh to a unique height in the world. App-based services have also become very popular. Many now opt for technology to reduce time, labor, and cost in daily operations, production, sales, and marketing. Large companies are using ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software.
However, many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are using mobile applications. The world is seeing the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in many ways, from fighting epidemics. In the coming days, the concept of business will radically change various platforms based on artificial intelligence. In the future, scientists will provide a glimpse of the widespread use of artificial intelligence machines or robots in various important workplaces including medical services, offices-courts, industries-factories, news agencies or media, language translation processes, telephone services, scientific research, hotels-restaurants and even marketing.
We need reskilling and upskilling to adapt to this. In the years to come, connectivity demand will increase further to prevent any pandemic. High-speed fiber optic-based connectivity should be promoted instead of conventional technology. Artificial intelligence (AI) and big data applications will increase in areas such as telemedicine services, distance learning, online training, identification of epidemic areas, social security enrollment, etc. to ensure social distancing. Besides, the capacity and capacity of the telecommunication network should be increased to meet the increased demand for e-commerce, outsourcing, freelancing, video streaming, and social media. In the current global scenario, a 5-G network is the need of the hour. Bangladesh has already adopted the plan to launch 5-G technology.
Telecom officials need to be trained and empowered for 5G. Bangladesh should be a pioneer in the implementation of SDGs in a changing life system through the proper application of information technology through the concerted efforts of all. To survive in the global competition of artificial intelligence, emphasis should be placed on supporting infrastructure-technical preparation in Bangladesh’s technology environment. Several issues must be addressed for the development of artificial intelligence in Bangladesh. Necessary hardware and systems must be in place. Young people in Bangladesh are curious about artificial intelligence. Those concerned believe there is an opportunity to use artificial intelligence positively for the country’s progress through these curious young people. Bangladesh’s agricultural workers are 47 percent of the total population.
However, agriculture still depends on nature, and traditional pesticide application methods are used. Artificial intelligence has great potential in diagnosing crop diseases, soil conditions, and weather. For 17 crore people in the country, the number of doctors is only 25-30 thousand. We must increase the use of technology in this sector. Artificial intelligence is seen by many as a means of knowledge-based labor that reduces the manual labor of humans. The US, China, and India are focusing on artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is already working on a small scale in leading businesses worldwide. If Bangladesh lags behind artificial intelligence due to the fear of unemployment, it may lag behind the rest of the world. This technological advancement can potentially reduce the number of manual laborers and expand knowledge-based labor.
But the Internet should be made accessible. Currently, 55 percent of the country’s rural households do not have internet access. Also, 59 percent of rural households do not have a smartphone, and 49 percent do not have access to a computer. Access to services through the use of information technology such as smartphones, laptops, and internet connection is essential; at the same time, the facilitation of services and skills in information technology are also necessary. In both these areas, the poor and low-income groups are deficient. Information technology accessibility has an idea but is not yet available because of the division within the family, which in most cases does not come to the fore. Just as there is a division between men and women in the family, there are different positions according to age. The information and communication technology policy formulated by the government is mentioned explicitly in the section ‘Social Equality and Universal Access’. It is essential to implement this policy, and specific initiatives should be taken for this. First of all, information technology should be taken to the doorstep of all people. For this reason, government initiatives should create the necessary infrastructure in information technology; private institutions should be encouraged. Besides, initiatives should be taken so that information technology can be used by poor people and women at low cost.
Hiren Pandit is a columnist and a research fellow.

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