India must choose to access data democratically: Prof K Vijay Raghavan

The topic of the talk was ‘Promise of big data for scientific discoveries’ under the main topic ‘Manthan’
K. Vijay Raghvan(Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)
K. Vijay Raghvan(Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Dec 30, 2019 04:41 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | By, Pune

At the 31st foundation day of Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Prof K Vijay Raghavan, principal scientific adviser, government of India, said that although huge data collection machinery is at work, without putting it to use, it would not help.

The topic of the talk was ‘Promise of big data for scientific discoveries’ under the main topic ‘Manthan’.

He said that India must choose to access data democratically and make it more accessible to everyone, unlike making it available to a privileged few. “Many argue that the effective analysis of data, more feasible today than ever before, is the one ring that will rule us all. Bigger, brighter and better machines will allow us, or them, to take wise decisions on everything. Elements of this ‘promise’ are already upon us and are manifested, starkly, by growing asymmetries in knowledge, and consequently, wealth and power. Both justice and power have always been wielded by those who possess knowledge.”

The talk tried to explore how data must be accessible to all and advancements in machine learning is a step towards artificial intelligence which requires a much better thought for humanity.

He also added that one path may lead to concentration of knowledge in the hands of a global few while the other path leads to the democratisation of opportunity leading to access, understanding and use of knowledge. Strangely, when accosted with this fork in the road, the world will choose both paths, on the average. India can and must primarily choose the path that democratises access to knowledge.

Science, technology and innovation has always been an important player on the global stage but has rarely taken a leadership role. Today, particle-physicists and cosmologists and every kind of scientist in between have the opportunity to lead in democratising knowledge and opportunity. Converting data to knowledge and understanding for all is an attainable goal, he added.

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