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Humanity & Technology – Our Janus moment….

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“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…Unless you fail to make the turn.” – Helen Keller

We are living in a time that has been “interesting” to say the least – in my parlez our Janus moment. While Covid has given us a reason to re-look and re-evaluate the way we work, the way we live etc. I believe change is much more than something which is current. This change, which will have a sustained impact on life and business, comes however in the backdrop of a few things, which in my opinion are more profound and makes us re-look at our basic assumptions and our baseline of what we considered as cast in stone facts which I call super macro factors. This is anything from whether our civilization is only a few thousand years old as we believed in the past, to now maybe being hypothesized as several hundred thousand years old; to the other extreme of a hypothesis being considered whether we live in a “simulation”. Also, will we fundamentally transform the way human beings interact and live with technologies like NeuraLink; will we as humans colonize Mars by 2035 (maybe beyond Mars too) and will we rid ourselves of fossil fuels in its entirety by 2050?

Now, the reason I bring the super macro picture to this discussion is to emphasize the age of change we are living in and most of the these will certainly occur or be known in our lifetimes; what Covid has done in my opinion has just fast tracked these changes and helped create a foundation for operationalizing the changes… I would classify the change and disruption we are going through now in two broad areas. Changes in the context & environment we live in; Changes in the way we work, run and respond to the needs of businesses leveraging technology. In the sections below I will try to articulate my perspective on these two facets over a 5 year timeline with not only the current context of crisis but also keeping in mind the super macro picture, in a journey that I look forward to with great expectations and optimism.

Back to the Future…

Reimagining Work  

Another paradigm change is in the metamorphosis of work and the worker – an area where Covid has made a profound impact. This organic transformation to remote work, though born of necessity, has extended the longevity of the worker. Will Work from Home (WFH) stay permanent? Will labour laws change? Will retirement have two brackets, compulsory and optional? The scope for greater productivity, enhanced work-life balance is right in front of us with technology as the backbone.

Of Trillionaires and Unicorns

Big tech innovation has totally changed the game. Data, AI and the Cloud have upped the ante in the innovation stakes. The Trillionaire club is not a possibility but now a probability. Entrepreneurs are leading from the front, with change just a transformation factor in their quest to be the next billionaire, to create the new unicorn. The next decade would in my opinion be called age of entrepreneurs – mostly associated with Technology industry.

The Talent Uprising

We should be seeing a surge of talent from non-traditional areas which are rural and distributed especially in developing and third world countries. This will be directly proportional to increase in internet penetration with lots of gig workers and freelancers.

Co-existing Local & Global Economies

The world has never come closer as one as recent times would testify and economies too are evolving. Countries are focussed on what works best for them, playing to their strengths and adapting to market dynamics and geo-political factors. Thus, we are likely to see a combination of extreme local to Glocal economies co-existing enabled by technology.

Healthcare Transformation

First of all, a big shout out to all the frontline healthcare workers! And yes, tech innovation has always played a harbinger of change in healthcare. A compelling case; virtual reality headsets for caregivers that offer persona simulations of aging Alzheimer patients. Of course the “Digital Heath Twin”, a personalized health recommendation engine is already in the works. Big game changers like self-health management aids driven by IoT++ and backed by wearable sensors will be in the offing very soon.

The Future’s Foundation is Technology…

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Magic!” – Arthur C Clarke

Brothers in Arms – The Data and AI Combo

AI has become omnipresent with collaborative intelligence at play all round our lives with the base of exponential data being generated on a daily basis. Smart homes is almost passé now. Humanoid robots seem not far away. Robotics for human augmentation is extending the human sensory experience, physical and cognitive big-time. Innovative tech is working towards human-machine technological embodiment to enhance labour productivity, human longevity and alleviate disabilities. Accurate weather prediction has never been more important ever in the history of humanity.

IoT++ & 5G

We are staring at a future where machines, systems and objects will be interconnected, the IoT++ experience. Enterprises can monitor the state of connected assets, get insights on predictive maintenance and improve their CX via personalized analytics suggestions, by sifting through data lakes captured by IoT sensors and devices. IoT++ deployments in areas ranging from critical healthcare, inhospitable environments and remote surveillance can fundamentally change the way humans interact and benefit from.

Autonomous Transport Tech

I called this out specifically, as technology piloted here will trickle down to all other business application areas. Robot taxis, shuttles, commercial logistics fleets are innovations in wait as connected cars shape up to offer new business models of value.

Quantum Computing

Quantum computing, with its transformational computing potential can solve complex problems in seconds, a huge leap from traditional computers that might take 1000s of years. For example, its deployment in Pharma research will exponentially quicken drug design and development. Financial modelling for investors and fund managers will help them get the right mix of investments and expected returns. Other exciting use cases include logistics optimization for autonomous vehicles and weather forecasting for predicting disasters ahead in time.

The Janus Moment…

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F Kennedy

While I understand that we live in challenging times, I urge you to consider someone who was born around 1900. First the World War 1, then the Spanish Flu, followed by the Great Depression, the Holocaust tragedy, and finally World War 2! Well, that’s something…

What followed though was the birth of modern technology as we know today – the mainstay, most of it was created in the last 70 years! In comparison to technology growth, sometimes I feel that there has been lesser focus on the evolution of the human mind, the inner resilience that had internalized and celebrated change. I often wonder, why has the evolution of humans almost always been closely linked to the evolution of technology? Maybe time will tell, in the meanwhile… the future is already happening!


Prasan Prabhakaran

SVP & Global Head-Enterprise & NextGen Services – Hexaware Technologies

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