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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014
World's Sleeping Giants: Nature versus Technology
Puneet Mehrotra , Hindustan Times
March 12, 2011
First Published: 18:45 IST(12/3/2011)
Last Updated: 18:51 IST(12/3/2011)

Human life is precious and like all human follies only after it gone do we realize its value. Technology wise humans have never had it better, we have everything that makes living so easy, literally a breeze.

Compare it to our ancestors who took probably 100-200 years to discover fire than another few centuries to invent the wheel and so on. Invention in our generation has a lead time of months or maybe a few years maximum. Yet when an earthquake hits the most advanced nation in the world technologically, Japan,  we are as helpless as a civilisation of the dark ages or 1600's which saw hundreds perish by something as simple a disease as malaria or cholera.   God was  a mute witness even a billion years ago when someone died of a disease as simple as fever, and even today God it seems is a mute spectator when 1000 die of an earthquake.

Even at that time the priest must have said to die of a simple fever is the will of God, and today the priest and the puritans must be saying the same for the earthquake. I wonder if the will of God has changed in 2011 that people don't die of simple fevers any longer and something as rocking as a tsumani or an earthquake is required for it to fulfill.

Yet between all this what has changed that people don't die of simple fevers any longer?  It's technology and innovation. It's man's declaration of a self grant, of granting itself what it really wants. It's the will of man. Sadly when it comes to natural calamities we are still in a dark ages era. Innovation is mostly confined to university campuses and companies play truant running after great profits than greater gains. Let's look at some of the world's biggest companies who talk a lot about innovation and taking on challenges and their score sheet in tackling with natural disasters.

The Sleeping Giants
GE - Imagination is Missing
Till a year ago reigned as the largest company in the world
GE's trademark is imagination at work and has been the backbone of some of the best and most innovative developments in human history.  When you take the word "innovation" GE promptly comes to mind. This is the same company that has literally brought light to our lives. Edison's tiny spark in his lab, in less than a hundred years turned into a flame that lights the hearts and minds of an entire civilization. This is the same company which is also responsible for bringing an entire civilization from the dark, non-electricity ages, to the light ages.

 Their corporate profile first sentence reads "....taking on world's toughest challenges".  Sadly earthquake and tsunamis are not a challenge for them as yet.  When it comes to natural disasters they find it easier to make a donation like they did Haiti earthquake or Chile earthquake then put their resources into preventing one from happening. Ironically their innovation line reads "For over 130 years, we've continued to innovate what has yet to be imagined." 

For a company that was till a year the largest company on this planet, wonder what would it take to put some "imagination at work" and "take on world's toughest challenges" both projections on corporate profile of GE, maybe a change in perception of those sentences would help!

Microsoft
Reigned as the biggest company in the world for over a decade
Air, water, Microsoft and Google. That's the importance of this company in our digital lives today. Life is a two way street, you give and you receive. Microsoft is a company that owes its success to the human educated human race, because if they didn't use Microsoft, this company would never be what it is.

Microsoft's corporate citizenship reads "Every successful corporation has a responsibility to use its resources and influence to make a positive impact on the world and its people".  Here is Microsoft's response to the victims of Japan (besides other points)
*Offering free temporary software licenses to all impacted customers and partners as well as
*Making Exchange Online available at no cost for 90 days to business customers in Japan
* Making a cloud-based disaster response communications portal, based on Windows Azure, available to governments and nonprofits to enable them to communicate between agencies and directly with citizens.

For a company that is Microsoft. Being Microsoft. Be the magnificent Microsoft. A company that has reigned the world for a good part of the decade, how about some innovation in tackling natural disasters with the kind of resources at their disposal. Ofcouse that would mean a cut in your ammunition budgets against arch rival Google, but considering history will remember Microsoft  in a far more magnificent way than a company that  won a war against a search engine, Google, which isnt even newsworthy after a month.

Google - forever sleeping
For those who didn't know there was an earthquake in Japan, Google has done it by putting a link on its search engine. It reads "A massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit the Pacific Ocean nearby Northeastern Japan at around 2:46pm on March 11 (JST) causing damage with blackouts, fire and tsunami. On this page we are providing the information regarding the disaster and damage with realtime updates."

Amen. That was the best Google, a technological giant, could do.  And here is a human race that lives on air, water and Google. Try and remain without Google for a day and see what happens. What the bing!

To be continued....

Puneet Mehrotra writes on business and technology   www.thebusinessedition.com  puneet@tbe.in


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