I am pleased once again BG Srinivas, now president at Infosys and tipped to be the next CEO by many, has supplied a blog post from this years World Economic Forum in Davos. In this post BG talks about how technology engenders social progress.
I hope for more from the Infosys team in Davos.
How Technology Helps Social Progress
By B.G. Srinivas
“There’s a social scientist and historian who wrote a groundbreaking book, a number of years ago, that studied the history of plagues and diseases. Before he looked at human history in such a way, no one had ever really considered how microorganisms like germs – and not armies and political movements – could cause great empires to rise and fall.
In that same regard, people are often surprised when they learn that certain items they take for granted today – such as cotton garments – did more to prevent the spread of disease when humans began weaving and wearing them on a global scale. A phenomenon like the invention of germ-fighting cotton garments seems quaint today. But as an important innovation of its era, it saved thousands of people from various medical conditions. In our own times, certain technology-led innovations might seem like sci-fi, and yet these may just be realized by sophisticated software or computers whose servers are in the cloud. And these accomplishments will have a direct effect on peoples’ lives.
I’m in Davos, Switzerland for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. The slogan at the WEF has always been “Committed to Improving the State of the World.” It’s no wonder, then, that a lot of what we talk about at Davos involves how technology can be the instrument of social progress. Consider, for example, the nano-patch. Ask anyone who once smoked a pack of cigarettes a day and is now smoke-free because of the nicotine patch.
Nano-patch technology is truly profound. According to a medical report I recently read, nano-patch technology also has a play in the painless transfer of vaccines into the body. Better still is that these patches don’t need to be refrigerated. That’s a huge advantage in some parts of the developing world where long-term refrigeration is an ongoing challenge. But the technology also comes in handy because it’s painless. Now take those two factors – lack of a particular convenience and ease of distribution – and you have a recipe for medical microchips that will someday be implanted in people on a colossal scale. When that happens, a doctor can monitor a patient’s information without even being in the same examination room, much less sticking that person with painful needles. Plus, the microchips can be tied into global databases that exist on cloud-based servers. The movement of diseases and pandemics will be anticipated because of the massive amounts of health information streaming into those servers from patients around the world. Indeed, there’s no doubting that tomorrow’s doctors will find information to be as potent a tool against disease as they do vaccines today.
To me, that is a tale that clearly demonstrates “Committed to Improving the State of the World.”