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The way forward for students of this age - 'New Humanities'

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Tomorrow’s 'New Humanities' will be defined by three pillars – Machine Recognition, Empathy and Spirituality

By Dr. Ajeenkya D Y Patil, President, Ajeenkya DY Patil University

Technology never stands still. The pace and magnitude of technological advancements is exponential and in future it will completely change what it means to be a human. Fictional concepts, which are the basis of all sci-fi movies of today, will no longer be too farfetched –real time holographic projections, living a second virtual life along with a real world existence, light Sabers and so on will no longer be fictional after all! Technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Brain Computer Interfaces and Robotics amongst others will completely redefine how we will relate and interact with each other. These technologies will also reformulate how the same jobs of today will be executed tomorrow. Hence, humans will have to acquire new life skills and expand the frontiers of their minds in order to survive this technological onslaught. This is what I call the New Humanities -the art and science of prospering ten or twenty years from now.

I believe tomorrow’s New Humanities will be defined by three pillars – Machine Recognition, Empathy and Spirituality. Machine Recognition, the ability to differentiate between a human and a robot will soon be essential along with the etiquette of how to interact with them. Experts from the field of Robotics are working tirelessly to make human replicas. A world, where humans will have to co-exist with Androids is well within our grasp. Machine Recognition will enable us to differentiate whether the person sitting next to us in a Café is a human or a ‘human-like’? In future, you may be shopping in a mall filled with Bots and Androids and may not even know.

Empathy, the cognitive ability to objectively analyse human behavior is the second crucial element of New Humanities. We may be able to re-create Humans, but will we be able to imbibe ‘Humanness’ in it? What will be the importance of a non-verbal communication like Empathy be in a world of human replicas? In a future, where inclusiveness extends to humans, robots, and sometimes a combination, the importance of Empathy is likely to reach unprecedented levels.

Spirituality, the third pillar is incomparable in its relevance in the future. It is a defining attribute of our value system. As we advance towards augmented technologies, my opinion is that our inner voice, our deepest beliefs and values will become all the more important. While our reliance on machines and the influence of those machines on our minds will only increase, we will inevitably seek respite in Spirituality at the core of our being.

As newer routes to the future are being imagined and manifested by scientists as we speak, Humans need new acumen or New Humanities. Ray Kurzweil, an innovator, author and a futurist predicts that human race will transform into Hybrid Robots by 2030. Ray believes that our thinking will transcend the conspicuous bounds of human capacities and will be predominately non-biological. In an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly non-biological and trillions times more powerful, I believe that the principles of New Humanities will differentiate and define our roles.

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