The exponential rate of advance of technology

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Prime Minister's Adviser Dr Gowher Rizvi addressing as chief guest the BOI Occasional Lectures' Series at its Board Room on July 28. Enayetullah Khan, Editor, Dhaka Courier presented the keynote speech. Dr. S. A. Samad, Executive Chairman, BOI and former BOI Executive Chairman M. Mokammel Haque also spoke.



Adviser to the Prime Minister Dr. Gowher Rizvi believes the power of information and communication technology (ICT), if materialised properly, can bring substantial change to the quality of human life.


He made the remark while speaking at a discussion on “Changing Information Highway and Its Impact” held at the Board of Investment (BoI) board room as part of its occasional lecture series last week.


Speaking on the occasion as chief guest, the PM’s adviser also congratulated the BoI for 30 percent growth in foreign direct investment (FDI) during the calendar year 2010.


“The achievement was very encouraging though our expectation has always been sky-high,” he said.


BoI executive chairman Dr. SA Samad chaired the meeting, where Editor of the Dhaka Courier Enayetullah Khan was the keynote speaker.


Prof Ali Ashraf MP, former secretary and BoI executive chairman M Mokammel Hoque, All European Awami League general secretary MA Gani, KAFCO CEO Salahuddin Ahmed, Poribesh Bachao Andolon chairman Abu Naser Khan, Director and head of capital market Maurufur Rahman Majumder and managing director of Premier Minerals Limited Grant R Figtree also spoke on the occasion.


In his keynote paper, Enayetullah Khan said that technology can bring “immense change” in our daily lives. The information and communication technology (ICT) has been changing so fast that it will change the world in the next 10 years.


“As computational power grows exponentially, not linearly, so does the rate of change and that means the next 10 years should pack in far more technological change than the last 10 years,” he observed.


Enayetullah Khan said that citizens’ use of information technology can be an effective vehicle to promote the values of freedom, equality, and human rights globally. In a new age of shared power, no one can make progress alone.


He said information technology has demolished time and distance. As advances in communications technology – cellular telephones, text messaging, the internet, social networking – allow an ever-widening circle of people to easily and inexpensively shares ideas and aspirations, technology will break down barriers between people and nations.


“The spread of the `freedom virus’ makes it harder and costlier for autocrats to isolate their people from the rest of the world and gives ordinary citizens tools to build alternative sources of power,” he said.


He said that the internet may have changed the world, but now the world is changing the internet. “For 30 years, new information and communication technologies have driven globalisation and the defining trend of the times.”


The Dhaka Courier editor said that the press is traditionally called the fourth estate, but in this day and age it may more effectively be called the interconnected estate – a place where any person with access to the internet regardless of living standard or nationality is given a voice and the power to effect change.


“Democratisation of communications will bring about the democratisation of the world,” he maintained.


He said connection technologies will carve out spaces for democracy as well as autocracy and empower individuals for both good and ill. YouTube videos, Twitter updates and Facebook groups made it possible for activists and citizens of Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and some Middle East countries to spread information that directly challenged autocracy. “States will vie to control the impact of information technologies on their political and economic power.”


Enayetullah Khan said that governments will have to build new alliances that reflect the rise in citizen power and the changing nature of the state. Those alliances will have to go far beyond government to government contacts to embrace civic society, nonprofit organisations and the private sector.


The speakers in the discussion underscored the use of ICT as a nation building tool, saying that extensive use of ICT can bring the desired goal of development of Bangladesh, and the vision of `Digital Bangladesh’ can only be materialised if ICT can be used properly.


The discussion meeting was also attended by UNB Chairman Amanullah Khan, Energypac managing director Enamul Hoque Chowdhury and senior officials of the Board of Investment and Cosmos Group.

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