Promoting Public Understanding of Emerging Technologies:

Promoting Public Understanding of Emerging Technologies:

The 4th Industrial Age is upon us, and a clutch of different but inter-related technologies are developing at an exponential face. It is mind boggling to just notice what AI could do in 2017, that it couldn’t do in 2016. 

Although it is believed that it is the 3 wings of Governance, the executive, legislature and the judiciary that drive change with the press and media acting as the fourth pillar, the Reality is that continuous lifelong education of all four is the foundation. 

In the absence of a proper understanding, the path  ahead driven by the alignment among these 4 may not be the most suitable.  

A balance has to be maintained between the hype of the media and the financial investors with hyperbolic promises with any new ‘breakthrough’ that could be hyped and the understated modesty of the real researcher. 

See for example the opening sentence of the famous paper in Nature on April 25th 1953 in which the double helix structure of the DNA is announced.

“ We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleus acid ( DNA). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest.”

Towards the end of the paper they say:

“It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.”

JD Watson FHC Crick Cavendish Laboratory Cambridge  April 2

I have therefore decided to become an ‘ explainer’ for some of these emerging technologies from the beginning of the New Year and in readiness for the Year 2020. By the beginning of the year 2020, we should have been able to demystify around 10 technologies and by the end of the year 2020 another 10 should have been done.

The general plan ( may be tweaked as we go along) is to have an event with an average monthly frequency of a one hour public lecture with a title like “ Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence” …..or a suitable variant. The bye-products from this public lecture will be a booklet on the theme, a suite of short video clips of a few minutes each, and a Whatsapp delivered course that runs over a weekend.

We will continue to solicit ideas for both topics and formats of dissemination of the knowledge.

An illustrative list of emerging Technologies :

1: A survey of emerging Technologies and their tipping points 

2: Artificial Intelligence

3: Machine Learning

4: Deep Learning

5: Machine Learning Algorithms 

6: Artificial Neural Networks

7: AI and Robots

8: Drones

9: Swarm Robotics

10: Augmented Reality

11: Virtual Reality

12: Big Data

13: Blockchain

14: Digital Manufacturing / 3 D Printing

15: Internet of Things

16: Nano-technology 

17: Genetic Engineering: Genes, DNA and Gene editing with CRISPR

18: Immunotherapy

19: Crypto-currency

20: Quantum Computing

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Data Protection: an important balancing challenge

Data Protection: an important balancing challenge 

It is a general attribute of modern societies that all their members have a right to own property. In its earlier forms property was always tangible and either immovable ( lands and buildings) or movable ( cattle). With the Industrial Revolution, movable property could also mean cycles, cars or buses. As we evolved, the concept of ‘contractual property’ emerged such as shares and bonds. And of what are called ‘negotiable instruments’. And more recently we saw the legal acceptance of Intellectual Property in the form of Trademarks, Copyright and Patents. And a global regime like TRIPS as a framework to which national laws were aligned. We had to align ourselves to the new ‘product’ patent regime as opposed to our ‘process’ patenting regime, which was a formidable challenge to our Pharmaceutical industry. It was not only copyright violation that was clearly illegal, but the collateral of ‘plagiarism’ which is more a matter of ethics that became a concern, especially for academics with tools like ‘turnitin’. Software could now be patented in some jurisdictions, though not in India.

To regard ‘data’ as an entity that is bestowed with attributes such as ownership, that is rightful or unlawful and has to be regulated is a relatively recent phenomenon of about a few decades ago.

Probably UK was the first to have a formal law “ The UK data protection Act 1984” to deal with the matter. The Data Protection Act 1998 is the current UK law governing how the personal data of the country’s citizens is managed by any organisation, be it public or private, including charities.

After 20 years, UK data protection regulations are being updated with a new law, to make it more relevant to the way technology is used today and harmonise it with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that have come into force from Friday May 25th 2018. 

Personal data is any information relating to you, whether it relates to your private, professional, or public life. In the online environment, where vast amounts of personal data are shared and transferred around the globe instantaneously, it is increasingly difficult for people to maintain control of their personal information. This is where data protection comes in.

Data protection refers to the practices, safeguards, and rules put in place to protect your personal information and ensure that you remain in control of it. In short, you should be able to decide whether or not you want to share some information, who has access to it, for how long, for what reason, and be able to modify some of this information, and more.

Who owns data? Ownership involves determining rights and duties over property. The concept of data ownership is linked to one’s ability to exercise control over and limit the sharing of their own data. If one person records their observations on another person who owns those observations? The observer or the observed? What responsibilities do the observer and the observed have in relation to each other? 

There is also a growth in appreciation of “ data ethics” regarding undesirable handling of personal data, even if there is not a violation of the letter of the law. 

When you give your personal details to an organisation or individual, they have a duty to keep these details private and safe. This process is known as data protection. We refer to organisations or individuals who control the contents and use of your personal details as ‘data controllers’.

Many of us give information about ourselves to groups such as Government bodies, banks, insurance companies, medical professionals and telephone companies to use their services or meet certain conditions. Organisations or individuals can also get information about us from other sources. Under data protection law, you have rights regarding the use of these personal details and data controllers have certain responsibilities in how they handle this information.

But there is another principle that ‘private property’ may be coercively  and compulsorily acquired for a larger public purpose. This is how land is acquired for creation of educational Institutions, public hospitals or for building bullet trains. And private buses are requisitioned by the election commission in order to hold elections. Sometimes the stated ‘ public purpose’ may be questionable. 

By analogy, for reasons of national security, improved healthcare and other public good, the data of citizens may be compulsorily sought as in the Aadhar card. 

The balance between rights of individuals and national and social interest will evolve over time. 

Among many other questions that GDPR raises is of its impact on Machine learning in particular and data science in general. The short answer to this question is that, in practice, ML will not be prohibited in the EU after the GDPR goes into effect. 

It will, however, involve a significant compliance burden, which I’ll address shortly.

Technically, and misleadingly, however, the answer to this question actually appears to be yes, at least at first blush. 

The GDPR, as a matter of law, does contain a blanket prohibition on the use of automated decision-making, so long as that decision-making occurs without human intervention and produces significant effects on data subjects. 

In Chapter V of Ancient Law, Henry Sumner Maine characterizes the evolution towards progressive societies as a passage from status (an ascribed position) to contract (a voluntary stipulation).

In terms of the present age of Big Data, Machine Learning and learning algorithms, we might project that “ As societies progress, they move from authority to data”. 

Or articulated a bit differently from hierarchical human decision making to algorithmic decision making. 

If you want to know some more about data protection in different jurisdictions and the Implications of the European GDPR, you may join a FREE Whatsapp weekend learning course that will run on Saturday July 21st/Sunday July 22nd by following this link :

If this link does not work for any reason, please send a Whatsapp message to Prof MM Pant at +919810073724 or an e-mail to

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Become a lifelong learner:

Course announcement :

LAT13: Become a lifelong learner:

It is now almost universally accepted  that to succeed in the coming 4th Industrial Age driven by Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning, in the era of rapid change, it is crucial to become a lifelong learner. As part of our mission of lifelong learning, we are offering a number of weeklong, weekend and one day courses delivered through Whatsapp on mobile devices. This is the announcement for one of the weeklong  courses. There will be separate announcements for other courses.

Planned flow of posts from Monday morning:

From Monday 2nd July 2018 to Friday 6th July  2018

Day 1: Monday 2nd July  2018:

The importance of becoming a lifelong learner

1.1: @7 am : Why lifelong learning is so important now?

1.2: @10 am: UNESCO and World Bank on lifelong learning 

1.3: @1pm : Lifelong learning for career success

1.4: @4 pm: Lifelong learning in an era of increasing longevity 

1.5: @7pm: Well known and successful lifelong learners

Day 2: Tuesday 3rd July  2018:

Awaken the learner within

2.1: @7 am :The habit of reading: learning from literature 

2.2: @10 am: Knowing what to learn?

2.3: @1pm :Expanding the definition of learning

2.4: @4 pm:The characteristics of a lifelong learner

2.5: @7pm:Grit, perseverance and a growth mindset 

Day 3: Wednesday 4th July 2018

Steps to becoming a lifelong learner

3.1: @7am: Become a more curious person. Ask questions.

3.2: @10 am :The do’s of lifelong learning

3.3: @1 pm: The  don’ts for lifelong learning

3.4: @4 pm:The journey to lifelong learning

3.5: @7pm:The future of work

Day 4: Thursday 5th  July 2018

Improving your lifelong learning abilities

4.1: @7 am :What is worth Learning?

4.2: @10 am: Learning at different stages of life

4.3: @1pm :Applying what you learn

4.4: @4 pm:The Feynman technique for learning 

4.5: @7pm:Making learning stick

Day 5: Friday 6th July  2018

How to learn anything?

5.1: @7 am :Learning how to learn

5.2: @10 am: Strategy and Plan for learning anything new

5.3: @1pm :Learning resources on the Internet

5.4: @4 pm:Using YouTube for learning

5.5: @7pm:Learning from Apps and MOOCs


To register for this course :

First pay the fee { of Rs 2500/- + GST @ 18% Rs450/-= Rs 2950/-} by PayTM to MM Pant ( mobile number : 9810073724). 

Then send a Whatsapp message to MM Pant ( 9810073724) with the following information :

1: Your Name : First and Last

2: Mobile phone number linked to Whatsapp 

3: Course Code and course name. The code for this course is LAT13 and the course name is “ Become a lifelong learner”.

4: PayTM transaction number/ screenshot

5: Your brief profile ( optional)

If you would rather pay to a Bank through electronic transfer, then the required information is : Madan Mohan Pant, HDFC Bank, Unitech Cyber Park, Sector 39, Gurgaon 

A/c 26451000000301


In this case send the Whatsapp message with the Bank transaction details instead of the PayTM information. 


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Mission 2020

Mission 2020: Building a nation of lifelong learners

In June 2000, the Planning Commission set up a committee to draw up a vision 2020, which report ( ) was published in December 2002.
We have less time than what the committee had to face the real 2020. Just about 20 months. And we want to focus on one thing ‘ The exponential rise of Machine Intelligence’. Our recommended response is lifelong learners. My personal mission is to evangelise lifelong learning, create a community of fellow lifelong learners, and hope that this would sow the seeds for a nation of lifelong learners.

If the more than 1 billion Indians decide to pursue lifelong learning and rational thinking, learning for even 15-30 minutes/day from their mobiles, we would leapfrog to a much better life. Eric Hanushek in his book ‘ The Knowledge Capital of Nations’ has …. and this is Independent of who is in power.
We begin the day by doing yoga. Why not follow it up with learning ( Gyan yoga). We use all devices to measure whether we achieved our fitness goal of 10,000 steps each day. Why not reflect over how many words did we read read or hear that added to our knowledge and understanding of the world.
This is an effort in that direction.
All you need to do yoga is your commitment, a yoga mat…. and practice. Most people who have kept with yoga for a while have experienced significant transformation.
For lifelong learning you need a similar commitment, a smartphone ( perhaps AI enabled) and continued pursuit. Yoga releases endorphins and learning releases dopamine and together they can make you really happy. And if you do the course on ‘happiness’ you will learn that if you act in ways that generate serotonin and oxytocin, you would become truly happy.
Isn’t that what we always wanted.
The year 2020 is just about 20 months away. This period is a period of very rapid ( exponential change) and as Professor Klaus Schwab pointed out in January 2016 is the onset of the 4th Industrial Revolution and era of the fusion of the Physical world ( of atoms and energy), the information world ( of bits and qbits) and the biological world ( of genes and neurons).

As preparation for this, everyone will have to create their plan for change and alignment to the future, and the main driver for it is lifelong learning. Whether you are a young person just about 18 years of age, who is ‘coming of Age in the 4th Industrial Age’ or a young professional facing the ‘ Gig economy’ and want to get comfortable with ‘ Business 4.0’ or a young senior citizen planning a useful ‘next decade’ of your life, you have to create and follow your own path to your destiny.

This mission of lifelong learning delivered through Whatsapp on mobile phones helps you find your way.

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STEM in 2020: a national priority

Addressing the STEM image problem needs to be a national priority :
After the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on the 6th and 9th August 1945, the USA was the world’s undisputed technology leader until 4th October 1957, when the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik. This Sputnik moment was the stimulus for a whole new set of initiatives to promote Science education in the USA. The mission yielded handsome rewards, when on July 20th 1969, Neil Armstrong set foot upon the moon in a giant leap for mankind.
Our stimulus for revamping our STEM education efforts is driven by a number of factors: our Bharata Ratna Scientist Professor CNR Rao unequivocally said that 90% of our Universities have outdated curricula, we are just entering the 4th Industrial Age, and several reports, such as the one by PwC project that India would be the 3rd largest economy ( by PPP) by 2050.
Our hope is based on our success in the IT field, which can be attributed to the timely creation of the IITs in the 1960s which was well timed to reap the benefits of the 3rd Industrial Age.
For the year 2020, which is just about 20 months away, we should set up our goal of setting ourselves up for the fourth Industrial Age. This means a massive access to AI knowledge and tools. Andrew Ng has famously said that ‘ AI is the new electricity’, and India could be the powerhouse. But it is a highly challenging goal. We need to drive Innovation, awakening the Innovator within all of us; promote citizen Science and foster lifelong learning as opposed to finite certification through diplomas and degrees. Our mission 2020 should be to ensure that every learner passing class 10 or class 10+2 would have a knowledge of ‘Computational Thinking’ and an appreciation of its applicability in different domains. Every learner in the first 2 years of tertiary education in any stream would have an Understanding of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning; how it works and how can it be used. Every University graduate would be able to ‘ Make Sense of Artificial Intelligence’ and know of its applications and understand its implications. Everyone from Kindergarten to an octogenarian would transform to a lifelong learner.
While this should be a national priority, it is not driven solely by the Government. Ideally the movement should be ‘agnostic’ to the Government of the day, and driven by enlightened, informed and committed citizens.
Professor MM Pant
Former Pro Vice-Chancellor
Indira Gandhi National Open University
Founder LMP Education Trust
Promoting Public Understanding of Emerging Technologies
Whatsapp :+919810073724
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Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence:

Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence:

This course is designed to introduce the course participants to the key ideas of Artificial Intelligence and its applications in various domains to illustrate the famous quote of Andrew Ng that’ AI is the new electricity’.
A survey of its history, a long ‘winter’, the recent resurgence and the current landscape of AI applications is covered. The course will help the participants develop an understanding of the scope, nature and context of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

At the end of the 2 weeks ,the course participants would be able to:
a. Appreciate the essential elements of Artificial Intelligence
b. Distinguish between Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning and Deep learning: terms that are often used interchangeably
c. Understand the barriers to the implementation of AI
d. Recognise and appreciate the drivers of the rapid growth in AI applications
e. Appreciate the potential of AI to disruptively transform the way we live and work

Target audience :
The course design and content is best suited to the young ( aged between 18 to 23 years), who are positioned to see this field unfolding during their years of preparation for the world of work.
Of course, precocious children from classes 9 to 12 would also certainly benefit from this program, although it may be a bit challenging for the ‘average’ student at this stage of schooling.
Adults would be well advised to pursue this course to have an understanding of the ‘shape of things to come’ and be prepared to respond to the unrelenting assault of these technologies on their traditional jobs. Day 3 and Day 4 content for week 1 is especially important for them.
This course also reflects on AI and arts, including music, poetry and literature, which is the focus of Day 5 of the 2nd week.
This course is not for only the technically inclined who seek a professional path in this field, but for everyone who wants to be aware of the biggest disruption, its challenges and opportunities in our history.
For the technically inclined, this would be a very useful ‘first step’ in the journey. It would have to be followed up with courses on Computational Thinking, Data structures, Algorithms, Heuristics and coding in Python and further courses on Mathematics and on Deep learning at depth. They would also need to learn the basics of neuroscience.
A program has been developed that includes these features and will be on offer from July 2018, to those who pass their 10+2 Board Examination this summer.


Flow of the 2 week program on ‘Making Sense of Artificial Intelligence’
Applications and implications ‘

This is a provisional, tentative set of posts. These posts may get re-sequenced and modified to make a more effective narrative and to respond to changes that happen in this very rapidly changing field. The posts from the resource person ( Professor MM Pant) are scheduled at about 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm everyday from Monday to Friday. The posts comprise text messages, links to other articles, links to videos from global experts and audio posts from Professor MM Pant.
The course participants make their comments, queries and observations at their convenience, and receive responses a-synchronously. The learning experience is enhanced by a very rich social learning element.

First cohort ‪begins : Monday 16th April 2018‬ ; ‪ends Friday 27th April 2018‬

‪Thereafter there will be a fresh cohort every month, that will run for 2 weeks. ‬

Week1: Day1: A quick history of Artificial Intelligence
Topic 1.1.1: Timeline of progress of AI: key moments in its story
Topic 1.1.2: The Turing test
Topic 1.1.3: Narrow Intelligence, General Intelligence and Super Intelligence
Topic 1.1.4: The resurgence of AI: Investments and Opportunities in AI
Topic 1.1.5: Singularity: The future of AI

Week1: Day2: Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
Topic 1.2.1: The many dimensions of AI
Topic 1.2.2: Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
Topic 1.2.3: Robotics and challenges
Topic 1.2.4: Swarm Intelligence
Topic 1.2.5: Applications of Robots

Week1: Day 3: Automation of Knowledge Work

Topic 1.3.1: A Disruptive Technology with $5 to 7 trillion impact (McKinsey Report )
Topic 1.3.2: Benefits of RPA
Topic 1.3.3: Software Robots
Topic 1.3.4: The future of knowledge work
Topic 1.3.5: Robotic Process Automation

Week1: Day4: What can AI do today, and how?
Topic 1.4.1: AI can read, see and hear
Topic 1.4.2: The Mathematics needed by AI
Topic 1.4.3: Predictive modelling
Topic 1.4.4: Recommendation Engines
Topic 1.4.5: Chatbots

Week1: Day5: Machine Learning under the hood: meanings of the buzzwords
Topic 1.5.1: The  key algorithms
Topic 1.5.2: Supervised, Unsupervised and Reinforcement Learning,
Topic 1.5.3: Deep Learning
Topic 1.5.4: Support Vector Machines
Topic 1.5.5: Neural Networks, Convolutional Neural Networks, Recurrent Neural Networks


Week2: Day1: Use case studies
Topic 2.1.1: Autonomous Transportation
Topic 2.1.2: Agriculture
Topic 2.1.3: Healthcare
Topic 2.1.4: Education : research and teaching
Topic 2.1.5: Home and service robots

Week2: Day2: The Technologies
Topic 2.2.1: IBM Watson
Topic 2.2.2: Google Tensorflow
Topic 2.2.3: Apple AI neural engine
Topic 2.2.4: Amazon Sagemaker
Topic 2.2.5: Mobile AI : AI on the Smartphone

Week2: Day 3: Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Matters

Topic 2.3.1: Legal dimensions of AI
Topic 2.3.2: World Economic Forum on ethical issues in AI
Topic 2.3.3: AI empowered warfare
Topic 2.3.4: Robot rights
Topic 2.3.5: What should be the Regulatory Framework for AI?

Week2: Day4: The future of work
Topic 2.4.1: Studies/reports on job displacements
Topic 2.4.2: Reduction/disappearance of the middle class
Topic 2.4.3: The Gig economy
Topic 2.4.4: Human dignity
Topic 2.4.5: The concept of a Universal Basic Income

Week2: Day5: AI and the Arts
Topic 2.5.1: A conversation on AI and the arts
Topic 2.5.2: Movies related to AI: The Terminator (1984); Steven Spielberg’s Movie : AI (2001); Ex Machina (2015)
Topic 2.5.3: Beyond Singularity : the play (2017)
Topic 2.5.4: Can Computers create poetry?
Topic 2.5.5: Arts in the age of AI

To know more about this course, send an e-mail to or send a Whatsapp message to : +919810073724 ( Prof. MM Pant)

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Happiness Unlocked !!

Happiness Unlocked:
Happiness Unlocked !! : A course on Happiness, for the lifelong learner

Duration 3 months

The main goal of all human activities and endeavours seems to be to seek happiness.

The American Constitution …, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

Yet most people are unhappy.

Many of these turn to spirituality, sometimes to fake ‘Babas’.

But in this age of reason and Science, it may be interesting to explore if we can achieve happiness by following the learning from Science including biochemistry, neuroscience and Psychology.

An unexamined life is not worth living : Socrates
Nietschze : One who has a ‘why’ of life can manage almost any ‘how’?

This program is structured as a series of 10 learning weekends that will explore themes such as :

Weekend 1: Saturday: The quest for happiness. What does it mean to be happy? Why its so hard to be happy?

Weekend 1: Sunday: The Science of lasting happiness ; The many faces of happiness

Weekend 2: Saturday: Clayton Christensen : how will you measure your life ?

Weekend 2: Sunday: How to control your feelings and live happily ever after?

Weekend 3: Saturday: The therapeutic value of creative expression : Bricolage; Writing

Weekend 3: Sunday: Speak for yourself ; Be mindful ; Reframing to ease negative emotions

Weekend 4: Saturday: The state of ‘flow’

Weekend 4: Sunday: The concept of ‘stithipragy’

Weekend 5: Saturday: Can money buy happiness?

Weekend 5: Sunday: The biochemical basis of happiness : endorphin, dopamine, sterotonr, oxytocin

Weekend 6: Saturday: Ageing Gracefully: enjoying the second half of life

Weekend 6: Sunday: Living in an age of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics

Weekend 7: Saturday: Finding meaning and purpose in your life: Aligning your living to your life’s purpose

Weekend 7: Sunday: The Japanese concept of Ikigai

Weekend 8: Saturday: Overcoming failures, disappointments, despair, and achieving happiness

Weekend 8: Sunday: An attitude of gratitude

Weekend 9: Saturday: Lifestyle matters : Diet; exercise; sleep, time and stress management

Weekend 9: Sunday: Loneliness : another modern malady

Weekend 10: Saturday: Looking at the bright side of life : Optimism, Inspiration

Weekend 10: Sunday: Laughter the best medicine

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