Technology is taking control of human life and impacting engineering and medical science

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Technology is taking control of human life and impacting engineering and medical science. What the students need to look for

At the turn of the century the IT and DotCom boom along with the advent of mobile phones, brought in a new era not only in application and use of technology but also in lifestyle. Similarly the medical profession started getting influenced by the support that electronic gadgets could provide to doctors. This trend is likely to continue at a rapid pace, and students entering into these fields need to not only be aware of the changes that have come in, but also need to anticipate and adapt to the developments most likely to happen in the coming years.

Firstly we need to be aware that working lifespan is increasing continuously and hence career planning needs to be done for longer duration. Retirement, which used to be at around 55 years of age one generation ago, has gone up to 60-65 at present. Individuals starting work in the next few years are more likely to continue to work actively beyond 75 years of age. In the mad scramble for ‘campus recruitment’ and chasing the ‘scope’ of particular careers, students (and more so some parents who unfortunately often live in the past) become short-sighted. Having counseled and guided people of almost two generations, I have seen that the ‘scope’ of the most lucrative careers can go down drastically, and sometimes even disappear.

If a student selects a career visualizing 50 years of working life, he or she stands a much better chance of smooth progress and satisfactory earning. One of the major effects on working styles and even human interactions will be the new technologies that are round the corner – so let us visualize how it will affect the lives of professionals.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics

AI is likely to play a major role in almost every profession and organization. To begin with, let us see how CEOs are getting efficient staff to take care of their routine work. Log on to and you will be offered for a few dollars per month, a ‘bot’ who becomes your Executive Assistant, taking care of your appointments, reminders, schedules, 24/7. A marketing person trying for a meeting with a prospective customer interacted with his Secretary Aditi for a number of days through email. When he finally visited the customer’s office, he was keen on meeting Aditi and asked for her. Imagine his embarrassment when he was told that no one by that name works in the office, and it was the name the boss had given to his Bot!

Dealing with developments like the above is not taught in colleges, but they will become an integral part of life. Aditi will soon remind you that it is your daughter’s birthday, the colors you should choose for her dress, which restaurant she would like to party at, the menu, reservations, who should be invited, entertainment etc. On the other hand you may have to come home to an Intelligent House that decides what room temperature you like, which food to heat up, what music to play and what entertainment you will enjoy most. More important Aditi will take over a lot of ‘intellectual’ functions at work, either making you redundant, or freeing you to do more meaningful or creative work.

Medical Profession

Aspiring medical professionals need to be aware that the doctor in the white coat and with the stethoscope round his neck will become a minor player in the future hospitals. Robotic surgery, remote sensing and monitoring body parameters, data analysis of medication, providing the right environment and comforts to patients, and even anticipating health issues as the patient grows old, will also be done through technology. Paramedical professionals will gain significantly in playing vital roles of health-care. Already in many hospitals in advanced countries the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is being headed by experts in medical electronics, with doctors being called in for specific requirements.

Students who take up medicine because they like life sciences and are not particularly fond of physics or math, will need to do a re-think. As treatment becomes more dependent on CT scans, MRIs, key-hole surgeries, and monitoring the patient through Apps, doctors will need to know how to make the best use of these facilities. Innumerable career alternatives to MBBS, such as Speech & Language Pathology, Operation Theatre Technology, Dialysis, Optometry, Physiotherapy, will flourish in the years to come.


In the past decade computer science engineers overtook all others in terms of jobs, salaries and progress. The primary skills required from ‘techies’ is programming and coding, hence those who were sharp in mathematical, logical and analytical tasks zoomed up the ladder. Machine learning will soon change the scenario. Routine programming work, including de-bugging, upgrading and applying to different fields, will be done by the computers themselves. Engineers will be required to go back to their core strengths and also ensure that they develop good intuition, out-of-box thinking, creativity and decision making skills.

Emotional Intelligence, already playing a very important role, will continue to grow and become the major factor in handling technology. Emotional intelligence is constituted of self-awareness, management of emotions, motivation, empathy and social skills. Those who sharpen these traits are likely to be the most successful ones.

One of the most important aspects for an engineer is to differentiate between use of IT based Apps and developing technology. I come across students who are fascinating with gaming, get high scores and prizes, and hence assume that they will make good game ‘designers.’ They need to do some serious re-think. Skills required in sunrise fields such as Data Analytics, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence will be far beyond being able to do mathematical calculations or logical thinking. Developing Life Skills will be the key to success in any bright and competitive career.

Last word: Technology can be a wonderful slave but a cruel master. Young people who are getting addicted to using freely available Apps or being dependent on gadgets may find that their ability to succeed in the real world of work has suffered badly. It is possible to live without dependency on gadgetry – I still do not have a smart-phone and am very happy without it !

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