What do you see when you picture a SCIENTIST? Usually Albert Einstein, a bad hairstyle, in a white lab coat? That is something that occurs to us instantaneously!
“Scientists define sciences by pushing past the bounds of human knowledge and breaking down the thought barriers of time”.
We celebrate them as geniuses who have upended our understanding of the cosmos, the planets and of ourselves. By and large, the science and technology field is still arguably male dominated.
It’s a rare possibility that we would visualise a woman surrounded with equipment, copying notes while she closely observes the chemical reactions in a glass flask.
As a minority, scientific contributions by women are often under appreciated. It’s a sombre fact that gender inequality still remains prevalent in the science and technology fields.
A few women scientists who defied this stereotype were written out of history!
In 1903 Marie Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, and in 1911 became the first person and only one of four others to win the Nobel Prize, twice. To this day, Marie Curie is the only person to receive a Nobel prize in two different sciences.
These women paved the way for future generations of women scientists and explorers. But highlighting the stories of these women in science is more than just augmenting women’s history. It's about understanding the cultural attitudes, historical forces and social realities that made science what it is today and what it will be tomorrow.
Women in Science - Do they often feel unwelcome?
The domain of STEM has for long been a white men’s club. It’s how the history of Science is often told - we tend to think of the world in one way and then people like Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Edison come along and shake up our understanding of fundamental things. But, in this trope of ‘lone genius’ : something thats usually applied to men, a few women thriving in science involuntarily got added. Inspite of women’s roles being unfairly overlooked in major scientific discoveries, many women in science revolutionised the ‘unwelcome’ tag and have emerged as successes.
Recently, the world laid eyes on the first image of the black hole and it shattered our fundamentals of understanding the great scientific mysteries of the universe. The woman scientist, Katie Bouman, lead the creation of a crucial algorithm that captured the image of a supermassive black hole for the first time.
The black hole image was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a network of eight linked telescopes, which was rendered by an algorithm (an algorithm : a set of rules used to solve problems). A single telescope isn’t powerful enough to capture the black hole, so a network of eight was set up using a technique called interferometry. The data Katie Bouman captured was stored on hundreds of hard drives. She attempted a testing process with different assumptions and multiple algorithms to recover an image from this data.
Biologist, Gagandeep Kang, made history by becoming the first Indian woman scientist to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, Britain’s main and prestigious scientific academy. She is known for her inter-disciplinary research of infection in children and has played an important role in developing vaccines against typhoid and rotavirus. She has also worked for the last 30 years on gut infections in Indian children and what those infections do to children in terms of their nutrition and mental development.
Gagandeep Kang said, “We don’t see many women scientists around and very few in the leadership role. It’s not because women are less capable but because the system (science establishment) doesn’t provide the necessary support in terms of flexible working hours or shifting of jobs.”
Ada E. Yonath
Keeping in view the extraordinary work that these women scientists have contributed to the field of science,Vishwakarma University, Pune decided to honour them. In the recent VUIC 2019 event, Ada E. Yonath was invited as the guest of honour.
Israeli crystallographer, Ada E. Yonath, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009 for her pioneering discoveries on the structure and function of ribosomes, the protein synthesisers in cells. While addressing the young minds, Ada Yonath elaborated on conveying the joy of science to young people and encouraging drug companies to develop new and better antibiotics. She also keenly emphasised ‘Curiosity’ as a good quality for any budding scientist.
While women like Bouman, Kang and their countless peers, will always serve as shining examples of where the women in science stand, it may take subtler, more consistent changes to turn the tide. Having more visible women at the forefront of science will inspire thousands of other women who want to pursue their work in an environment of parity and respect!
Are you an Arts student, confused about finding the right course in college? Worry not! We have curated a list of career options after 12th for you, that cash on your creative potential while promising to be financially rewarding!
Ask a child his or her aim in life, and I bet you that nine out of ten times, the aim would be to be a doctor or an engineer. It is not completely beyond understanding either – in a country where one lives forever on the edge, engineering and medicine seem a sure shot way of raking in the moolah. Who wants to be poor, after all? Humanities is often pooh-poohed, therefore, for precisely the same reason? Scope kya hai? The parents say wagging authoritative fingers at the child.
The answer is Scope hai! Gone are the days when Engineering and Medicine were considered to be the only dependable career options. Today, Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences graduates have a wide range of lucrative careers to choose from. A degree in Economics, Graphic Design, Psychology, Journalism, Fashion Design, Law, in Interior Design etc. can open a plethora of opportunities to art graduates. If you have finished your exams and wondering what to do after 12th, look no further. We have curated a list of career options after 12th in Arts that can be your gateway to a bright future.
If there’s one career that never goes out of demand, its journalism. In this era of instant communication, people constantly want to keep themselves abreast with the latest happenings around them. It will give you the satisfaction of having bylines to your credit, which you can flaunt and rub in the face of naysayers. Besides, a career in journalism gives you the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. A degree in Journalism and Mass Communication makes you eligible to work as a reporter, photojournalist, and last but not the least a TV news presenter etc. Imagine all your family is huddled in the living room, and your face beams in from the television as you direct people to answer what the nation wants to know! Imagine!
Do you draw and doodle when the teacher drones on in the class? Worry not! A sharp eye and a sharp wit can take you places as a cartoonist. In days of yore, poor cartoonists had to do the bidding of the editor. No more, no more. Post your cartoon on your social media page, get thousands of likes, and earn without the hassle of a regular job. If you can hone your writing skills to write eye-catching captions and precise stories, web journalism too opens a host of opportunities for you. An 800 word piece for Reuters alone can fetch you about 90,000 rupees.
Jaanay kyun, jaanay kyun? Aamir Khan croons in a Hindi song. Have you ever wondered, how human beings think? Why someone reacts to a situation the way they do? Why some people are outgoing while others are shy? If you have more questions than answers, study Psychology. India ranks among one the unhappiest countries of the world, if a recent survey were to believed. An unhappy person is a shrink’s delight. Besides, with awareness rising about mental health in India, the demand for trained psychologist is set to rise. Corporates need psychologists to understand client behaviour, train employees in problem solving, or simply to market themselves better. As a corporate consultant, one can set up a globe-trotting career consulting with firms and businesses around the world. These are just two possibilities – you can train as a military psychologist, child psychologist, forensic psychologist, occupational psychologist…the list is a long drawn one, and you get the hint, don’t you?
Money makes the world go round and always will! Manmohan Singh did not become a Prime Minister for nothing. Economics as a subject is growing in popularity these days because of its widespread applicability. You could teach it, you could work at a bank or financial institution, you could work in a corporate, you could provide advice and consultancy, or you could simply help people decide their investment options. The sky is the limit. Rural studies, statistics, GDP, banking, finance and development – all can be included under its ambit. You could be the next Raghuram Rajan!
As long as the world adheres to the contract of civilization, law will be needed. And as long as law exists, a lawyer can never be out of work. There are many fishes in the legal pond, just drop a line and Eureka, you will make a career out of it. You can work as a corporate lawyer, a criminal layer, family lawyer, a civil lawyer etc. If you can combine your legal knowledge with good interpersonal and communication skills, you can have a good number of clientele to your credit. You could sit on the bar too with a legal degree, and adjudicate at the top seats of justice in the country and the world.
Don’t you love the pretty clothes on show at the mall? That pair of jeans that caught your attention, that skirt that made you look at the mirror and sigh! You could be the lead force behind creating those clothes.
The fashion and apparel industry in India is currently estimated at approximately $ 70 billions and its set to grow exponentially. The fashion designing courses after 12th prepare you for the fast-paced, exciting and glamour industry. Graduates can find employment as a Brand Manager, Fashion Journalist, Costume Designer, Accessory Designer.
Appearances may be deceptive, but they are useful. They are the first thing that catch your eye. What should a particular product look like? How should I design my website or my brochure or my proposal that it catches the eye? In steps the graphic designer. A graphic designer should have an eye for color, understanding of shapes and a creative bent of mind. A degree in graphic design can teach you the basics but like any other field most of the learning takes places 'on the job’. To succeed as a designer, you need to keep your eyes open, be observant and learn to think on your feet.
Often times people take interior design and interior decoration to be the same thing except that they are not. Interior designers are a combination of engineer and artists. They possess a thorough knowledge of material, budget, installation, electrical safety and construction etc. This broader range of required knowledge distinguishes them from interior decorators who mostly decorate the available space according to the taste of their client. Interior design and decoration is hard work but for those who are willing to learn to balance the practical and aesthetic aspects of it can go a long way. It is a financially rewarding and creatively satisfying career. Ask Twinkle Khanna, she left films for it.
The author of this article, Richa Singh is a content writer with Investronaut. She is a voracious reader and a keen traveller.
“ Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink”
This has been a cruel irony for the mariners or for a matter of fact to any thirsty person who has ever gazed upon a sparkling blue ocean.
The United Nations predicts that by 2025, 14% of the global population will suffer water shortage. In addition, climate change, decreased rainfall and rising temparatures is expected to wreak havoc on urban water supplies. Draught conditions exacerbates fresh water supply, and people tend to look to the oceans for answers. It is after all, a seemingly inexhaustible supply.
A growing trend?
In an attempt to overcome this global hurdle, scientists have imagined a coastal city of the future. Along with the basic infrastructure such as a port, roads, sewer lines and an electricity grid, they have proposed a Desalination Plant as part of basic infrastructure. Thanks to improved technology, turning ocean water into freshwater appears to have become a more economical and viable answer to the problem.
But can we miss the Global Implications of the Desalination Technology?
Most desalination technology follows either of the two methods: distillation through thermal energy or the use of membranes to filter salt from water.
In the distillation process, saltwater is heated to produce water vapour, which is then condensed and collected as freshwater. The other method employs reverse osmosis to pump seawater through semi-permeable membranes (paper-like filters with microscopic holes that trap the salt while allowing freshwater molecules to pass through). In both cases, the remaining salt water is then pumped back into the ocean.
But we cannot miss out on the GLOBAL IMPLICATIONS of this technology! The existing, industrial-scale desalination plants are expensive. One impact is the discharge of salt during the desalination process on coastal or marine ecosystems. This was of increasing concern in the Gulf. The Gulf states are heading for “peak salt”: the more they desalinate, the more concentrated wastewater, brine, is
pumped back into the sea. And as the Gulf water becomes saltier, desalination becomes more expensive. The desalination technique has drawn criticism from environmentalists, who argue that it involves large amounts of energy, produces greenhouse gases and harms marine organisms.
Graphene - The nano-sized magic material was discovered in the due course. Can it fix the drawbacks of Desalination Plants?
This negative criticism by environmentalists has brought a major drop in the research and implementation of these desalination plants. It was amidst these trial and error methods when Graphene was discovered. Ever since it was discovered, graphene has been hailed as a natural wonder in the materials world, destined to transform our lives in the 21st century.
Graphene's amazing properties excite and confound in equal measure. How can something one million times thinner than a human hair be 300 times stronger than steel and 1,000 times more conductive than silicon? This two-dimensional special material is blessed with a special atomic arrangement. The one atom thick layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb lattice is the secret behind its unmatchable potential as a material.
Researchers in the United Kingdom then put on paper a graphene-based sieve that could filter salt out of seawater, a development that could provide drinking water to millions of people around the globe. Its exceptional applications were realised as a game-changer in countries where access to safe, clean, drinkable water is severely limited. The scientists began racing to develop an inexpensive graphene-based barrier for desalination on an industrial scale.
The research has advanced to a stage whereby a compound of graphene, known as graphene oxide, can be used to create a rigid sieve that could filter out salt using less energy.
“Graphene sieves can make seawater drinkable!”.
In recent years, there has been some success in water filtration using graphene oxide to sift out other smaller nanoparticles and organic molecules.
But researchers are struggling to move forward after finding that the membrane's pores swell up when immersed in water, allowing particles to continue to pass through. They have progressed in fixing this glitch and the technique to control the expansion and size of pores is developed. The pore-swelling is restricted by coating the material with an epoxy resin composite that prevents the sieve from expanding. This means that common salt crystals can continue to be filtered out, while leaving behind uncontaminated, clean, drinking water.
Will the ultimate goal of getting freshwater from oceans with the help of graphene sieves be fulfilled?
The ultimate goal is to create a filtration device that will produce potable water from seawater or waste water with minimal energy input
Our focus is to be able to design and produce appropriate graphene-based membranes with required sieve sizes. This discovery will be a significant step forward and will open new possibilities for improving the efficiency of desalination technology.
The selective separation of water molecules from ions by a physical restriction of interlayer spacing opens the door to the synthesis of inexpensive membranes for desalination. More work still needs to be done to test the durability of the barriers and to confirm that the membrane is resistant to fouling by organics, salt and biological material.
The bottom line is that water treatment with membranes that separate water molecules from ions, pathogens and pollutants will always be proposed as an energy-efficient solution to the freshwater crisis.
The voice behind this article is Ashwini Gaikwad, Content Writer, Investronaut.
Hello there! Yes, you! You just ignored the advertisement on the television set - the iDEA 4G commercial. You looked past it like every other issue that is left unaddressed! Was the commercial not catchy? Was it just another beach scene where ‘auntyji’ tosses some litter and a random girl educates and sensitives her on the issue of keeping clean? Unless an issue costs our lives, we do not pay attention.
We fail to realise that the solution to a problem starts with awareness, research and the measures to contain it!
12 year old Pune based Haaziq was moved by a documentary on the ocean pollution and decided he had to do something about it. To visualise the magnitude of this pollution, lets stack two litre plastic bottles from here to the moon and back, TWICE! The problem is so severe that not only the bed of the ocean but a layer at the depth of 12 km below the surface of the ocean, is heavily polluted with floating plastic and pollutants. Ocean pollution is not an oft discussed subject and we still do not understand the exact magnitude of it. Although there is research presenting statistics on it, it is sad how we have not fully comprehended the damage we done to earth. A few days ago, there was research that stated that the salt we consume has roughly about a 92% chance of containing micro - plastics.
Annually over a million birds and 1,00,000 marine animals die because of plastic in oceans. About 66% of all fish caught across the world have ingested plastic in some way or another. What one should realise about marine animals dying from plastic is not the number of deaths, rather the process which leads them to death.
The thing with the death of animals consuming plastic is that it’s not an instantaneous death. Lots of these birds and animals eat the plastic thinking it is food, only for the plastic to get stuck in their stomach or intestinal lining. Some creatures have downward facing spines in their throats which prevent the possibility of regurgitation. Most animals are unable to get the plastic outside their body once they swallow it. Which leads to either blockage in their stomach and intestine. This prevents them from consuming food leading to starvation. Imagine not being able to eat anything and starving to death slowly and painfully.
Did you know many sea animals commonly deal with “bubble butts”. It makes them float as a result of trapped gas caused by harmful decomposition of marine debris. Not only does it lead to starvation it also makes them an easy target for predators.
The plight and struggle of the aquatic life, trying to survive the waste dumped into the oceans moved 12-year-old Haaziq Kazi to come up with an innovative solution to this hazard. And that's how ERVIS was born, a futuristic-ship with saucers attached, that can 1)clean waste matter floating on the ocean surface 2) analyse the waste collected and 3) stop waste at source, prevent it from getting disposed by ships.
How does ERVIS work?
ERVIS is a bleeding edge design of an intelligent ship. This ship is essentially powered by hydrogen and renewable natural gas with various compartments and saucers surrounding it. The saucers, float on the surface, gravitate to create a whirlpool to pull the waste towards its centre. These saucers have a central inlet which swallows the waste and are connected via a tube to various chambers in the ship. As per design, there is a sensor or mechanism on its bottom which detects marine life, water and plastic while passing on from the ocean. Marine life and water are left out and only the waste is sucked in.
There are four chambers which are for large, medium, small & micro waste respectively. These chambers include an oil chamber which collects waste oil. Based on the type of plastic it collects, ERVIS compacts and stores it. Once the waste enters the chambers, ERVIS analyses, segregates and compacts it, and pumps the filtered water back into the ocean, without harming any marine life in the process. The waste is collected and analysed, it's then sent back to land for recycling.
Haaziq explained,“While designing ERVIS, I was cautious and I didn’t want it to add to the problem of ocean pollution which current ships in oceans do. Around 20 percent of waste in oceans is contributed by marine ships so I wanted ERVIS not to be a contributor to it. From start, I wanted ERVIS to be powered by renewable energy sources like solar and renewable natural gas".
He further added, "The initial design principle of ERVIS was to go in deep ocean and deal with large ocean waste problem but I realised closer to home we have 2 of the top 10 rivers in the world who contribute to the ocean waste problem – Indus and Ganga. India also has a very large coast line suffering from same waste problem. While playing with the model, I realised that it could be scaled down to man rivers and seas, essentially any water body to collect waste and clean it”.
Long live ERVIS and its motive of cleaning the oceans and restoring the natural habitat! Haaziq derives his inspiration from Elon Musk and has a vision of turning his dream project into a beneficial ship under Tesla. He is also working with conservation organisations and forums to create awareness about the ill effects of ocean plastic pollution and ways to prevent it.
Sometimes I feel lucky that I was born in an era where technology has brought a revolution to the whole world. And today, technology has made our life so advanced that we can get everything at our doorstep with just a single click of our smartphones. The revolutionary tools, equipments and gadgets have completely changed the way we live our lives as compared to a decade ago. With this advancement, it has become impossible for us to imagine our life without these gadgets and equipment.
But to really appreciate the effects of technology – both its virtues and costs – we need to examine the world of humans before technology. What were our lives like without inventions? For that we need to peek back into the Palaeolithic era when technology was scarce and humans lived primarily surrounded by things they did not make. The advancements in inventions led to discoveries that changed the human lives tremendously. A few noted accidental inventions without which life would have been unimaginably difficult are stated here.
(Pacemaker - The original idea)
With one of our most vital organs being the heart, conditions such as arrhythmias where the heart either beats too slow, too fast, or with an irregular rhythm can have extremely detrimental effects on one’s everyday life. People may be unable to continue an active lifestyle, suffer breathing problems, and even subsequent organ damage that can lead to terminal ailments or death. A pacemaker helps assuage the problems of arrhythmias to increase longevity and help those with heart conditions to lead a healthier and more active lifestyle. Using electrical pulses, a pacemaker can regulate heartbeats to pump blood throughout the body at a normal rate.
Notable inventor, Wilson Greatbach, invented the first implantable pacemaker by accident while he was attempting to construct an oscillator that would be utilised to record different heart sounds. Pulling one of the resistors from the wrong box led to the advent of the life-saving device that is used prominently today. A rhythmic beating sound was rendered during his flub, and it was then that Greatbach decided to scrap his original invention and create an implantable pacemaker. After two years of fine-tuning the device to perfection, the pacemaker went on to be hailed as “one of the ten greatest achievements of the last 50 years by the National Society of Professional Engineers.”
(WAND - the latest developed pacemaker)
A new Neuro stimulator developed by engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, can listen to and stimulate electric current in the brain at the same time, potentially delivering fine-tuned treatments to patients with diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson’s. The device, named the WAND, works like a "pacemaker for the brain," monitoring the brain's electrical activity and delivering electrical stimulation if it detects something amiss.
These devices can be extremely effective at preventing debilitating tremors or seizures in patients with a variety of neurological conditions. But the electrical signatures that precede a seizure or tremor can be extremely subtle, and the frequency and strength of electrical stimulation required to prevent them is equally touchy. It can take years of small adjustments by doctors before the devices provide optimal treatment.
WAND, which stands for Wireless Artifact -free Neuromodulation Device, is both wireless and autonomous, meaning that once it learns to recognise the signs of tremor or seizure, it can adjust the stimulation parameters on its own to prevent the unwanted movements. And because it is a closed-loop -- meaning it can stimulate and record simultaneously -- it can adjust these parameters in real-time.
(X-rays - The original idea)
If we didn’t have X-rays, would we suddenly just assume we had (or didn’t have) a broken bone? Would surgeons need to merely guess which part of the body is fractured? And what would we be doing during this time when the pain of the broken bone gets unbearable and the doctor is still figuring out which one is broken?I digress…
X-rays are an integral part of the medical field, as they can show medical professionals if and where a broken bone or fracture has occurred, where a bullet is lodged, signs of pneumonia and they are also used to identify breast cancer with mammograms. The use of X-rays has become so standard in medical practice, it is hard to believe that the invention of the X-ray was a complete accident.
In 1895, physicist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen was spending time in his lab in Germany to try and figure out if cathode rays were able to pass through glass (you know, typical physics stuff). To block a majority of the radiation, Rontgen had set up thick pieces of cardboard around a fluorescent screen, but was in for a surprise when he noticed a strange glowing on the screen penetrating the cardboard barriers every time he switched on the cathode ray.
While others may have decided that level of radiation was terrifying and just scrapped the project, Rontgen investigated the glowing screen and found that the glowing permeated several objects. He even placed his hand in front of the screen only to be welcomed by the sight of the bones in his hands, thus discovering that the ray could penetrate almost anything except for things like bone and lead.
It took years to perfect X-rays, as scientists and doctors didn’t initially realise the harmful effects of radiation, which can cause fatal conditions like skin cancer. Today, X-rays are used widely in medicine and also in airports for extra security measures.
(CERN - the latest developed X-ray)
What if, instead of a black and white X-ray picture, a doctor of a cancer patient had access to colour images identifying the tissues being scanned? This colour X-ray imaging technique could produce clearer and more accurate pictures and help doctors give their patients more accurate diagnoses.
This is now a reality, thanks to a New-Zealand company that scanned, for the first time, a human body using a breakthrough colour medical scanner based on the Medipix3 technology developed at CERN. Father and son scientists Professors Phil and Anthony Butler from Canterbury and Otago Universities spent a decade building and refining their product.
Medipix is a family of read-out chips for particle imaging and detection. The original concept of Medipix is that it works like a camera, detecting and counting each individual particle hitting the pixels when its electronic shutter is open. This enables high-resolution, high-contrast, very reliable images, making it unique for imaging applications in particular in the medical field.
And ohh yes…all this while we thought science was difficult! I always pondered over the unimaginable inventions and cursed the scientists for being so smart! Now I know the secret behind unbelievable scientific inventions - it was purely accidental.
Change is inevitable. We constantly need to adapt to changes surrounding us to be able to survive in the world and the manufacturing industry is no exception. Many companies have used artificial intelligence to improve their bottom line. Artificial intelligence helps identifying the flaws in the system, suggest purchases to new and returning customers and streamlines the supply chain process. In fact, according to the reports, supply chain is one area today that is leveraging the benefits of AI.
With the growth of manufacturing industries, the volume of data has also increased drastically. Hence, companies are looking for more sophisticated systems to make business intelligence processing more effective. This is the primary reason why manufacturing companies are ldepend on AI techniques to increase their productivity and increase revenue.
AI and Supply Chain Management
The prime responsibility of supply chain management is to respond to customer demands by providing exact supply match as efficiently as possible. There are three important factors that have led to an inability to match demand and supply: -
All these factors lead to failures and losses because our current systems are incapable of providing correct information in a timely manner to manage the demand and supply equation. Any kind of information gap is detrimental to an efficient supply chain. The big question is how does a company use artificial intelligence to better manage demand and supply.
Enhancing Demand Forecasting Accuracy
It is not easy to function in a supply chain environment if you are unable to forecast the demand. Traditional methods of forecasting included statistical techniques for forecasting. Historical sales data is used to predict demand. These techniques are unable to process large sums of data and have struggled from time to time in providing accurate information. However, with AI in place, it’s easier to provide precise data and improve demand forecast.
Bridging the Production Uncertainty Gaps
While working in the manufacturing industry, machines will break, and you will not always be able to deliver. This will further lead to low output, delayed shipments, and interruption in the supply chain. Artificial intelligence helps in maintaining equipment by continuously collecting information on equipment breakdowns. Timely repairs can be scheduled based on this information that help in avoiding delays.
Smarter Inventory Management
Managing inventory is one of the biggest challenges for every supply chain manager. However, with AI’s predictive modelling, it’s easier to predict how much stock is needed and decrease or increase production, thereby bringing down the cost of holding inventory.
AI is the Future in Supply Chain Management
Adopting the latest technologies to meet higher consumer expectations and demands is the need of the hour. AI helps throughout the supply chain management process with faster turnarounds for better results. Artificial intelligence will not only make people’s lives easier but also streamline businesses.
The rise of machines taking over the human world is no longer a dystopian dream. The dread that is associated with robots taking over the world is a reality from which there’s no escape. A great example is the manufacturing sector, which had long been a supplier of well-paying jobs and was is now transformed by the introduction of machines. But what about the white-collar jobs in the information technology sector? Will the emergence of machines have an impact on professions in journalism and media?
Automated journalism is shaking up the traditional journalism and the role of a news reporter by using computer algorithms to transform raw data into news stories that mimic the ones that a human may might have written. Media has long been at the forefront of technological innovation from satellite communications to the Internet and social media. With the advent of AI and big data, it was just a matter of time when journalism would be subject to the inevitable change in the way it’s produced and distributed.
Automated journalism takes the interaction of media with machines to a whole other level. It automates each step of the news production process, from investigation to the actual production and distribution of news. The automated news stories work well with fact-based stories where structured and reliable data can be transformed into content that is not just cheaper and quicker to produce but can also be personalized to the needs of the reader. No wonder it’s perceived as a threat to traditional journalism practices and quality and a precarity to the employment within the industry.
As publishers struggle to cope with dwindling newspaper subscriptions, Natural Language Generator models such as Automated Insights, Yseop, and Narrative Science have developed automated reporting systems, chatbots, and algorithms that have already been adopted by larger news organizations such as Associated Press, Forbes, The New York Times and Los Angeles Times.
The Washington Post has been experimenting news stories on the Heliograf smart software that made its debut in 2016 at the Rio 2016 Olympic games. By analyzing and reporting the data related to the games as they emerged, Heliograf was able to keep up with information relating to scores and medal counts in real time, freeing up journalists so they could work on creating other content. In its first year, the Heliograf produced as staggering 850 articles and was awarded the “Excellence in the Use of Bots” for its 2016 election coverage.
Using natural language technology, the tools spot patterns and trends in raw data, match them to the relevant phrases in the story template and add the information to create a narrative that can be published across different platforms. That too in seconds. Here’s an example of an automated news story by Associated Press.
The typical uses of automated journalism include news stories on sports and finance – where it’s easier to crunch numbers and convert raw data into coherent news stories. As technology improves, robot journalism is likely to move into more challenging areas.
The potential for machine learning journalism is endless. Speed and efficiency are two factors that distinguish AI article writers from their human counterparts. From monitoring technology, collecting statistics and writing and disseminating information, the potential of machine learning journalism is limitless, especially when it’s related to factual news such as weather forecasts, traffic reports, political results, and sporting events. Along with speed, one of the standout features of articles created by automated journalism is the reduction of errors and the need for human editing.
Despite their multiple advantages, there are certain limitations that robot writing is plagued with. While the robot can place facts in a preset template, robots writing articles are severely lacking in the expression of emotions through the text like a journalist. The machine is unable to craft a colorful feature story or conduct an in-depth analysis of a subject. The lack of adaptability also means that robot journalists are unable to adapt to new styles of writing and new tools. Journalists fear that the widespread use of automation could lead to the loss of editorial identity in the long run.
One of the biggest disadvantages of automated journalism is the risk of fake news proliferation. Unlike a journalist, a machine is unable to detect certain flaws in a news story which can lead to the spread of fake news. For example, the Quakebot robot (specialized and designed to prevent earthquakes) accidentally announced an earthquake reporting several deaths when the earthquake was in fact 92 years old. While the cause of the mistake seems to be human, a human action caused the replacement of the date of the 1925 event by 2025, the robot failed to spot it and started disseminated the news.
Instead of worrying about robots affecting job prospects, journalists can leverage automated journalism by using it as an assistant for focusing on data-driven stories and press releases while they focus on more complex topics that contain deeper analysis to increase their turnover and grow engagement for their brand.
According to Associated Insights, nearly twenty percent of a reporter’s time that is spent covering financial news can be freed up with the help of AI to improve accuracy and to give reporters more time to concentrate on the content and story-telling behind an article rather than the fact-checking and research. In the end, this could mean a win-win for journalism rather than its demise.
Pune : Education doesn’t mean limiting a student to curriculum. It goes beyond that and in fact cocurricular and extracurricular activities play an important role in shaping a student as not mere a degree holder but a responsible citizen too. Social bonding at young age helps develop an understanding of society and people living around us. With a view to inculcate this understanding Vishwakarma University (VU) has participated in MHRD’s Unnat Bharat Abhiyan. Recently, VU has adopted 5 villages around Pune city under this project. In coming days, students and faculty together will make sure that villagers in these villages drink pure water, which is a severe issue at present.
What is Unnat Bharat Abhiyan?
Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is inspired by the vision of transformational change in rural development processes by leveraging knowledge institutions to help build the architecture of an Inclusive India. Technical institutes from across the country have been selected for the project and VU is one of them. The idea is to adopt villages, understand their persistent issues and find solutions with the help of technical know-how of students as well as faculty members.
How VU is approaching the project?
‘The aim is to sensitise students about issues of society. Many a times while living in a metro city, we are unaware of problems of people staying in villages on the border of the cities. Students should understand the real-world problems and find answers to them using available resources there. We are approaching the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan with this view,’ says Prof Maya Kurulekar of Faculty of Science and Technology who is guiding the students.
What did VU do as a part of the project?
VU has adopted Samrevadi, Bhadalvadi, Thopatevadi (1 and 2) and Mordari villages near Sinhgad Fort. All these villages have less than 400 households. They lack many primary facilities including pure drinking water. As the project started, first thing that was done was a survey of these households. Nodal officer Prof Kailas Bhosale has been coordinating the project for VU. He motivated as many as 67 students from the first year BTech course to do a comprehensive survey in these five villages. According to Prof Bhosale, the survey was carried out to identify the basic issues. The findings of the survey will be uploaded on the portal of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan. While doing this survey, students found that villagers were using water from wells but the quality was poor. As a result, villagers face medical issues. Students also found that medical facilities were far away from homes and villagers needed to travel quite a distance to access them. ‘After the survey was done, we decided to focus on one issue at a time. To begin we have focussed on providing pure water. We have a tie up with Wilo Foundation for Water Quality Centre of Excellence. Wilo India Limited has developed and sponsored Water ATMs for this centre where this water is processed and pure water is provided. We have one such Water ATM at VU campus. We plan to establish similar Water ATMs in these villages from where villagers can drink pure water. We also had discussion with Gram Panchayats for providing water to these Water ATMs per day for purification,’ mentions Prof Bhosale.
Along with 67 first year BTech students Prof Mrunmaee Randade, Prof Sandeep kumar Shukla, Prof Jameel Ahmad Ansari, Prof Sonali Botkar, Prof Rushika and Prof Maya Kurulekar are involved in this project. Prof Kailas Bhosale is nodal officer of the project for VU.
Sakal Today, Pune Edition dated 13th January, 2019
The activities of VU under this project will be monitored by coordinators of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan at IIT-Delhi and IIT-Bombay.
The most effective means to remain in touch with our real self and to maintain a sense of identity is to indulge in reflection and introspection. The consequences of not taking time out to pause and reflect are psychologically wide-ranging.
"If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death."
Poet Pablo Naruda’s lines from the poem ‘Keeping Quiet’ aptly describe our existence in the hyper-real world where we all seem to be continually pushing the Sysiphian wheel. We dare not waste a minute! In our relentless race to perform and produce, reflection and introspection have become lost arts. We are consumed by a temptation to just finish this or do that. The perils of perpetually denying ourselves uninterrupted time to reflect may result in losing connection not just with others, but also with ourselves. Denying the mind to wander off freely in different directions is counter productive to creativity, deep insights, productivity and personal growth.
Doing nothing and the culture of shame.
Try telling your parents that you want to take a year off to reflect on your life. You are likely to get an earful on losing out in the race! In most cultures, doing nothing is associated with shame, guilt and wasting time.
We also associate doing nothing with boredom. So, when we have free time, we try to fill it up with distraction-inducing activities like constantly checking our phone or watching TV which stimulates our brain, giving us the impression of being happy which makes it irresistible to stop. We get sucked in the vicious circle of social media - looking at pictures, liking and commenting on posts. It might give us an impression of being productive but the fact is that social media is a reactive medium, it lacks originality and its prolonged use burn us out psychologically.
Recently a video went viral on social media where an employee is shown being taunted by a colleague as he is leaving office after a grueling 9 hours of work. The employee gives a long befitting reply to him as to how he has a life outside the office too! As much as the video tickles us it is relatable and rooted in reality. Unfortunately the culture of putting in long hours at work is encouraged by contemporary organizations as it is useful for them. Employees who put in long time in office are rewarded, encouraged and supported for it suits their purpose. Instead of discouraging workaholism, organizations go by the attitude that “I am paying that person a salary, why aren't they at their desk when I am still in office?” A perception is framed that people working longer, work harder. But there is no relationship between working hard and working smart. Workaholic work environments are unhealthy, they may lead to serious mental and health problems, relationship breakdowns, low motivation etc. Companies fail to realize that the best employees are those who both act and reflect. Reflection requires unplugging from the compulsion to keep busy.
Somewhere down the line it is becoming acceptable to live at an unhealthy pace. But remember Newton discovered the laws of gravity while contemplating under a tree! Likewise Archimedes had his eureka moment in the leisure of his bath tub! Slower rhythm of life give our mind the necessary downtime.
Downtime, which includes reflection and introspection enables not only our creativity and our need for rest, it also enables the formation and maintenance of our deep sense of being and identity. Identity is discussed in terms of the Self by the great Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. For Jung, integration of all our life experiences into a whole forms the Self. This Self needs to be nourished with contemplation and introspection to maintain a sense of identity.
We need a certain balance and equilibrium within ourself and with our environment. Yet in the forever connected and time-driven world we inhabit, we are far from equilibrium. The time and space for personal reflection is often consumed by long work hours, social commitments and smartphone addiction, resulting in a lack of mental peace and quiet necessary for inner stability. Without the mind having free downtime our emotional, spiritual and psychological health will suffer. It is during ‘wasting time’ or downtime that our inner most self speaks to us. The events of the past that have held personal meaning for us whisper to us in those quiet moments.
So take long walks, longer naps and indulge in day dreaming to be the best and most efficient version of you.
The author of this article, Richa Singh is a content writer with Investronaut. She is a voracious reader and a keen traveller.
Companies look for that X-factor that will distinguish them from their competitors and yield higher prominence to them in the market. For that, it is important that workplace potential is harnessed optimally and employees are given a conducive environment to develop their creative potential. If ever a proof of the same was required, then Google’s 20 percent program should settle it. Google allows its developers to spend 20% of a working day on side projects. The aim is to elicit, nurture and advance creativity and innovation by allowing space and time for innovation to employees. And if ever a doubt was cast on its efficacy then the origin of some of Google’s best products like Gmail, Google Talk from this scheme should quash it.
Creativity may be inborn but it needs the right environment and stimuli to flourish. As an employer it is your prerogative to ensure that such a climate exists at your workplace. But the million dollar question is: how do we produce such an environment? Let us look at a few techniques which can foster creativity in the workplace:
A key element in ensuring creativity is to be empathic to the process of creativity. Ensure that boredom finds no place in your work structure. Junior employees often complain, and not without reason, that they get to do repetitive, and mundane work and as the axiom goes - familiarity breeds contempt. An employee will not be motivated by an easy task which she/he is too well versed with. Their interest will be piqued when there is an element of challenge – unfamiliarity in the task. When an employee feels that there is an opportunity to learn something that he/she does not know, their interest and creative prowess will be amplified automatically.
Often a challenge brings forth the best in a person. Employees prefer a task that sets a premium upon its solution and challenges their creative potential. Take the example of the ubiquitous Walkman of the late 70’s. One day, Sony co-founder Akio Morita challenged his chief engineers to create a hi-fi no bigger than a small wooden block. The challenge fired the imagination of his engineers and led to the release of the Walkman in 1979. Creative people like challenges — the more challenging the task, the better.
You must ensure that creativity is placed at par with the other facets of the job, if not higher. Creative ideas which lead to an increase in efficiency should be rewarded proportionally. This will create the necessary motivation for it. However, we may ask: how should we decide on the reward? Money, bonus, awards……? I am afraid, No! they can be useful but creativity and innovation cannot be ensured by these factors only. For starters honest praise and appreciation is a good way to keep the employee motivated. Employees often treasure praise from people they respect — such as their peers, boss or mentor. Remember: “While a difficult task may be worth his while, a thankless task is not.”
Without implementation, no reward or incentive can motivate the employee to engage in creative thinking. The creative suggestions put forth by the employees must be turned into action. It is not enough to simply gather creative ideas. If an employee discerns that their creative ideas are not implemented, their motivation is likely to be reduced. A reward will not offer an employee the same satisfaction as its implementation.
Often the employees may be hesitant to divulge their ideas for fear of making mistakes. The employees need to be reassured that mistakes are a part of creative phenomenon. Creativity, in fact, works often by hit and trial method till one settles into a creative pattern. Employer support is one of the key elements of a creative workplace. If the employer is unresponsive and unsupportive, the employees will be scared away from experimenting in all likelihood.
Instead of providing assignments with restricted guidelines and instructions, apprise the employee of the ultimate goal of the assignment. Allow them to get the work done, as and how they please, with minimal interference on your part. Trust the employee’s capacity to deliver. This makes the employees feel motivated and recognize that they have authority and power over their fields.
Exchange of ideas is difficult in a situation where everybody thinks alike. Employees should be therefore hired from diverse backgrounds, qualifications and skills. Homogeneity can lead, undoubtedly, to greater team bonding and a stronger inter-personal relationship. However, this will prove to be the bane of creativity at the drawing board. A uniform and agreeable crowd can prove to be a serious impediment for creative ideas to flourish. You could consider relaxing the norms for recruiting your staff and allow for a more diverse criterion in your selection. This will permit diversity in the workplace. Hiring staff from different domains and background and allowing them to mingle around, in projects is a handy tool for ensuring creativity in the workplace. Organize more informal interactions between employees with dissimilar profiles to facilitate exchange of thoughts.
it’s important be fair to your employees, treat them with respect and make sure your employees never get a perception of being wronged for it leads to a total erosion of motivation and creativity.
The author of this article, Richa Singh is a content writer with Investronaut. She is a voracious reader and a keen traveller.
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