Commemorating the 15th anniversary of laying the foundation stone of St Joseph Engineering College – Vamanjoor, Mangaluru, on 11th February 2017, the sixth Foundation Day Lecture was delivered by Prof. K. J. Rao, Emeritus Professor, Ramanna Fellow (Senior), Solid state and Structural Chemistry Unit at the Indian Institute of Science – Bangalore, at 9:30 am in the Spoorthi Hall. Rev. Fr Joseph Lobo, Director of SJEC, along with Dr Joseph Gonsalvis accompanied Prof. K. J. Rao on the dais. Speaking on the occasion, Fr. Joseph Lobo spoke of the fascinating journey and milestones accomplished by SJEC in becoming an instrument of transformation for its students. He remembered the contribution of everybody involved with SJEC and mentioned that at SJEC, people added life to their years in contrast to the normal of adding years to life. Fr Lobo extended a hearty welcome to Dr K. J. Rao, whom he described as a man of immense knowledge and wisdom, and known for his immense contributions to his profession and society.
With the oration, titled Advances in Science and Technology, A New Civilizational Challenge, Prof. Rao left the audience captivated by putting forth the fascinating progress of science and technology and its influence on society and mankind. Drawing generously from his vast and varied experiences as a premier scientist, Prof. Rao inspired and motivated the young engineering students of SJEC to get involved in the process of innovation. Prof. Rao provided a summary of the state-of-the-art in various fields of science and technology, such as: emerging computing capabilities of optical, quantum, and DNA computing, Li-Fi mode of communications, satellite delivery systems, supercomputers, world of qubits and quantum computing, Hyperloop mode of surface travel, disruptive technologies such as 3-D printing of houses, body organs, orthopaedic and dental implants, the fascinating and frightening world of drones, self-driving automobiles, new age self-balancing human form robots, Internet of Things and its possible taking over of human interference on multiple disciplines and professions, Big Data analysis, and Artificial Intelligence.
By presenting the progress made on each of the above listed technologies, Prof. Rao also provided estimates of their penetration and growth over the next 20-50 years. He spoke about how philosophers and scientists are worried about the growth of Artificial Intelligence and automation and its definite impact on employment of humans. By providing examples of robots replacing millions of humans in various trades, Prof. Rao warned of almost every sector of industry and farming becoming machine driven. In this scenario, he asked the audience to think about the need of Universal Basic Income as a possible solution to ensure basic sustenance of humans. Universal Basic Income was spoken about prior to the budget session but found no mention in the Union Budget 2017.
Concluding his address, Prof. Rao proclaimed that science must teach humanity as it goes along. Warning against dangerous sentiments such as eugenics, Prof. Rao called for the emergence of a moral society than just a modern society.
Following felicitation of distinguished Prof. K.J. Rao by the members of the Management, Mr Gandhimathinathan, Assistant Professor in the Electronics and Communication Department proposed the vote of thanks.
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