S. R. Praveen
From someone immersed in the field of innovation, Mammo Muchie’s concerns also extend to the destruction, of jobs and livelihood, that innovation and the march of technology leaves in their wake. Muchie, the Research Chair and Professor of Economics Research on Innovation at the Tshwane University of Technology in South Africa, spoke to The Hindu on the challenges thrown up by technological advancement.
“We have now entered the fourth industrial revolution, one which deals with knowledge and innovation. Here, we are not dealing with incremental technologies. What we now have are exponential technologies, the pace of growth of which is causing dramatic effects. The more technology takes control, the more impact it has on the people. Human relationships are changing, some are failing to cope with the changes. We need to think on whether this growth is destructive or constructive, and devise ways to make it constructive,” says Mr.Muchie.
He says that there needs to be correctives to ensure that the creative destruction by technology changes into creative construction.
“If the technology trend goes on like this, without value change, we will create zero jobs. We will have a situation where many people will be out of jobs, which they have been holding for many years. What do the people do then? There should be a balance between what is created and destroyed, so that the sociological impact of technology is minimised. Automation should have its limits,” he says.
According to Prof.Muchie, entrepreneurship should not be just individual-centric, rather we should create social entrepreneurship.
“The industries can generate profit, but there should be non-profit dimension too. A new language, beyond that of profit, should be created. When the gain is calculated, it should not be calculated not just on the economical gain, but the social or even environmental gain,” he says. He says that these conversations should happen among stakeholders, in Governments, in private companies and amongst communities. “Technology can do many things, but unless it is connected to the human values. I think these conversations that are happening in the academic sphere should happen among the various stakeholders. If there is no such engagement between everyone, there is not much use having sustainable developmental goals,” he says.
Prof.Muchie says that the process should happen from the student community, as he is doing at his own institution.
“One of the things I do is to make sure that the students create together. They work together as competitors, and more importantly as friends, in creating socially relevant solutions,” he says.
He will be delivering a lecture on ‘Know Africa – History, Development and Science’ at the Institution of Engineers hall in the city on Monday at 5 p.m.