Smart Phones Dumb People? is a non-fiction book written by Parthajeet Sarma, who runs his own business in the building industry. This book elaborates on how our various problems could be solved, especially with the application of technology. When I read the title, I was expecting the book to be about something else!
Initially the author touches upon the importance of innovation and the ecosystem required to create innovation. The second chapter is about technology. Frankly, the first two chapters contain a lot of information that we already know. But his insight on PAT (Process Alteration by Technology) offers some food for thought,
“Simply put, Process Alteration by Technology (PAT) is the application of human intellect with modern technology in order to improve and alter business processes to bring in efficiencies, leading to overall development of industry and human beings. Technology is here to make life easier for us; technology is not here to control and rule us though”
He talks about how improvements in various fields (for example, mobile phone industry) has resulted in a better life (in this case, easier communications), for us. The situation before liberalization is compared with the situation now and the author talks in length on how application and mass adoption of technology has changed our lives in every sphere. He also adds,
“The challenge for policy makers, while employing modern technology to improve public life, is to get away from a tunnel vision and create an inclusive and balanced ecosystem wherein even our flora and fauna are protected”
That’s the real problem with rapid development. There is no balance and resources are consumed mindlessly.
The author then talks about the importance of entrepreneurship, types of entrepreneurship, enabling factors, etc. I liked the insights offered in this chapter, especially since it comes from an entrepreneur.
The next chapter talks about urban-rural divide and how mass-migration to cities is going to compound our existing problems. He also talks about reverse migration where city dwellers are increasingly building farm houses, etc., in a rural locality. Do we need to build more cities or do we need to continue expanding existing ones? How do we make both cities and rural localities more livable and enjoyable? These are some of the topics tackled here.
Surprising me (and everyone else who will read the book), the author then tackles the complex subject of corruption and explores how technology can help fight the menace. He also talks about different types of corruption. It is true that technology has reduced corruption in certain sectors (like the railway ticket booking, for example), but how far can technology go in eliminating it? Even if we bring everything online, there are still millions of people in India who are not literate. As admitted by the author, it’s a complex problem.
I liked his suggestion for the application of PAT to the housing sector (though I don’t want to tell what exactly he has proposed). I feel that since the author is in the housing industry, he should have included more analysis and elaborated on the advantages/ limitations, further.
The caption of the book reads, “Using 21st century to address 19th century issues”. But there is one more thing to it – “19th century mindset”. What can we do about that, author?
Question to the readers: Do you think technology can solve our major problems?
Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book for review purpose.