Emerging Technologies and New Career Opportunities

emerging technologies
Photo by Kevin Ku

When the internet was invented, nobody thought that it would grow in the size that we see today. Many technologies that had humble beginnings have proved immensely useful for the world and its people. The internet has led to many applications, though initially, it came as the World Wide Web to connect all computers of the world to share information, pictures, etc.

While innovating and exploring new things, we come across new technologies and applications which can bring efficiency, speed, accuracy, and many more benefits.

The Emerging Technologies

Artificial Intelligence:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the most talked-about among emerging technologies. It has been in existence for decades but is termed emerging as many new dimensions of its usage have come out recently. Industry 4.0 will primarily be driven by automation, and artificial Intelligence shall be making a significant contribution to it. Intelligence is defined as mental ability reasoning, problem-solving, learning, and unlearning. In its general nature, intelligence integrates cognitive functions attention, memory, perception, language, planning. The human brain carries natural intelligence, which, of course, differs from person to person.

When a machine, device, or system is made capable of adopting some human intelligence, it is said to be making use of AI. Thus AI is a combination of technology and intelligence under which computer systems made of machines and software can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. AI may be applied to a broad range of domains and applications. The core idea is to build machines and algorithms capable of performing computational tasks that would otherwise require human-like brain functions.

Considering the scope of AI application, concerns are being raised if it will replace humans, thereby leading to job losses. Opinions are divided on this. It is pretty sure that in many jobs, AI will be applied, and some functions will definitely be taken over, but it’ll be creating new jobs as well. It is the same misplaced fear that gripped industries and businesses with the advent of computerization. Also, AI can never be as creative as humans.

Recognizing the current interest in AI and its future prospects, the Central Board of Secondary Education has decided to incorporate this in its curriculum. NITI Ayog has formulated a national strategy for the adoption of artificial intelligence.

Big Data Analytics:

Today we daily encounter unprecedented volumes of data. Also, the data which we’re exposed to is relatively more organized. In its primary form, data can be just one or one set of numbers, however deep down, it may have meaningful implications and usage for businesses.

In data science, every transaction creates data or a set of data. For example, if you made an online purchase, the set of data includes what you purchased, at what price and time, is it a new purchase or a repeat one; if latter, after how much gap it was purchased, etc. By analyzing such data from individuals and groups of customers, businesses may plan their production or marketing strategies. Data Analytics has grown into a vast subject now and covers various forms of analytics, such as prescriptive, predictive, etc.

Analytics has extensive uses in human resource planning, sales, marketing management, banking and finance, education, etc.

Indian firms, like their global counterparts, have realized that a proper analytics strategy has a direct link to business performance. As per recent estimates, India is currently among the top 10 big data analytics markets globally. With its vast population, India can significantly benefit from big data analytics through better civic governance, social security, and financial inclusion. Such analytics can be a catalyst for the economy and country at large.

Blockchain:

Some of you might have heard about blockchain regarding cryptocurrency like bitcoin. Technological experts see blockchain as a decentralized, secure, cost-effective, and efficient way to make and track transactions electronically.

Blockchain can enable ease of collaboration for enterprises and ease of living for citizens by bringing transparency across government and private sector interfaces. It is very often combined with technologies such as AI or the Internet of Things. Unlike other technologies, which can deliver completely new services to citizens and other stakeholders alike, blockchain has the potential to revamp existing processes to unlock new sources of efficiency and value.

Blockchains lead to a system that seamlessly adheres to the rule and fulfills the promise of not allowing transactions that did not comply with the agreed conditions. Today, people transact with multiple entities every day, both offline or online, and in various forms.

Transactions could be done in small purchases from a roadside vendor or a deal between two huge organizations. Immaterial of the size or nature, however, a common underlying feature of transactions is that they require the parties involved to trust each other or adhere to a system that enables this trust to be executed. These ‘trust systems’ can take a variety of forms, depending on the nature of transactions being conducted, to create checks and balances to ensure that parties involved fulfill their responsibilities and recourse in the case of disagreements is available.

Blockchain is one of the most in-demand hard skills for 2020. In 2019 the worldwide spending on blockchain stood at $2.7 billion. Blockchain has become a line of business for top global companies in the finance and technology domains like Amazon, JP Morgan, IBM, ORACLE, and Microsoft. Blockchain can perform thousands of transactions per second with precision and accuracy. This is a relatively new technology but is catching up fast.

Internet of Things (IoT):

Connecting devices to the internet are getting common day by day. Such connections provide tremendous benefits. Many people watch videos (available on websites) on their TV sets for which they earlier used desktop, laptop, or mobile phones. This is just one basic example of IoT. It is full of possibilities which we’ll see in the coming days. Many of the technology experts value IoT as a concept rather than a technology.

When something is connected to the internet, that means it can either send information or receive information or can do both. This ability to send and/or receive information makes things smart. To become smart, a device doesn’t need to have super storage or a supercomputer inside it. All a device has to do is connect to super storage or to a supercomputer. Being connected creates several new opportunities. Using IoT, a mobile phone may be connected to a fridge, air conditioners, lighting system or locking system, etc.

IoT devices are becoming more affordable day by day. In business organizations, the increased adoption of IoT is due to low-cost sensors, improved infrastructure, and the advancement of communication technology. When 5G technology arrives, it is likely to give another boost to IoT. The flagship programs of the Government of India, like Smart Cities Project, Digital India Programme, and Smart Energy Project, are expected to expand the deployment of IoT. Nasscom expects that by the end of this year IoT market in the country will be around 15 billion US$.

Robotics:

emerging technologies robotics
Photo by Alex Knight

A robot is an assembled device to perform specific functions, hitherto being performed by human beings. In a sense, a robot is a personification of AI and a tool for industrial automation. Robotics is the science of building robots and adding new features to them.

The use of robots helps to achieve a higher level of automation. We’re getting more familiar with robots in our daily lives.

Robots come with different capabilities. There are simple robots that can move things from one place to another in a programmed way, and there are those performing complex surgeries at hospitals. You’ll find them in different shapes and sizes. Robots are an example of what a combination of engineering and technologies can do. Engineering involves designing various parts and aligning them. Technology is what drives a robot to perform its functions. Sensors make sure that these don’t collide on their way. New technologies are helping robots to sense the world in ways far beyond human capabilities.

Robots do work by making use of artificial intelligence combined with others. They can talk to you and guide you. The manufacturing industry has already been using robots in its assembly lines and other functions. Nowadays, they are increasingly being used in the service industry. You may find them in a bank branch welcoming customers or answering queries at e-Commerce and other websites. Robotics is made use of in driverless cars to satellites. In this time of the Corona epidemic, new robots are being used to spray disinfectants, sanitize, and other purposes.

Education and Training for a Career in Emerging Technologies

To study any of the above technology and get trained in it, you’ve to make careful choices. Courses related to the above are not as readily available as general courses in engineering (B.E/ B.Tech) and management (MBA). You need to choose a course that offers adequate learning with both theoretical and practical inputs. There are several online courses, some free and some highly-priced. Those who are entirely new to the subject may go through the content of a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to decide whether they want to go deeper into it and consider it as their area of work.

For engineering graduates, emerging technologies offer the opportunity to pursue further or higher studies. Their background in mathematics and engineering makes it easier for them to understand machine learning and things like that. To study and work in emerging technologies, you need to have matching aptitude and orientation.

The maximum number of courses is available in big data analytics, both as a discipline of engineering or management. This means one may go for a B.Tech/ M.Tech or MBA/ BBA in this subject.

Established in the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), has made a phenomenal contribution to research and development related to new technologies. It is also a leading education/ training provider in emerging technologies. A few of its courses are mentioned below:

  • Post Graduate Diploma in the Internet of Things
  • Post Graduate Diploma in Big Data Analytics
  • Post Graduate Diploma in Artificial Intelligence

C-DAC also conducts MBA and MCA courses. It has centres at Noida, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Thiruvanantpuram, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Silchar and Mohali.

National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT), established by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India, through its various centres (at Aurangabad, Calicut, Chandigarh, Kohima etc.), conducts a number of courses relevant to the areas mentioned in this article. Online courses include- Certified AI Professional, Big Data Analytics Tools, Tools for IoT Deployment among others. Advanced Diploma in Big Data Analytics and Advanced Diploma in Artificial Intelligence are among short duration (12-16 weeks) courses.

Various centres of Indian Institution of Information Technology (IIIT) have tried to cover emerging technologies in their under-graduate and postgraduate engineering courses. At postgraduate level specialisation in these may also be available. For example IIT, Delhi offers M.Tech with specialisation in Algorithms and Complexity which may be considered related to Big Data Analytics.

Indian Institution of Information Technology (IIIT) with centres at Allahabad, Gwalior, Nagpur, Pune etc is a good place to study emerging technologies as these specialise in information technology.

Take the case of Atal Bihari Institute of Information Technology where B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering has electives in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Data Science and IoT. At IIIT, Pune M.Tech. is available with specialization in Artificial Intelligence and IoT. IIIT, Bengaluru in its M.Tech course in Computer Science and Engineering has credit in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

National Institute of Technology (NIT) centres too have courses related to emerging technologies.

All India Council for Robotics and Automation has Robotics Literacy Programs (RLP) at ‘O’, ‘A’ and ‘B’ levels.It also has the following Certification Programs –

  • Certificate in Artificial Intelligence (AI Beginners).
  • Advanced Certificate in Artificial Intelligence.
  • Certificate in Internet of Things
  • Certificate in Big Data & Hadoop.

Some of the IITs and IIITs have the opportunity to study robotics at postgraduate level.

Many start-ups too have started courses in IoT, Big Data, Blockchain etc, Usually these are off campus programmes.

Job opportunities

Newer job opportunities are coming up in all the above areas. You may choose to work with companies which are into developing applications related to these technologies. Many such companies, including startups are involved into this. The other option is to work as a practitioner. Here you may work with consumer durable companies, automobile manufacturers, banks, insurance companies and financial institutions, management, human resource and general consultancy firms, audit firms, aircraft manufacturers, airlines, software and hardware producers, market research agencies etc.

Organizations like DRDO, UIADI, Indian Computer Emergency Response Team may also require your services.

Teaching and research are other options.