The world in general and the geospatial world in particular are moving very fast, too fast to keep up with in a print form. Digital publishing has taken over in these fast moving times and print has to concede ground. While our portal geospatialworld.net will keep readers informed as fast moving events like the acquisition of DigitalGlobe by MDA Corporation of Canada unfold, our print magazine Geospatial World will continue to serve its purpose as a platform for in depth analysis of technologies, applications, industrial trends and government policies and the advocacy of critical issues in these areas.
In the upcoming issue we have covered a major technology trend, Deep Learning which was also the theme of the recently concluded Geospatial World Forum 2017 at Hyderabad. Deep Learning is a Phoenix which has arisen from the ashes of a near disaster called Artificial Intelligence in the last century. AI lives on and is now thriving in various avatars like Big Data Analytics, apart from Deep Learning. AI may revolutionize the world we live in, but are we up to assimilating this revolution? We have seen labor saving devices transforming into labor transferring devices. The Internet and the smartphone have satisfied our hunger for connectivity and information where and when we want it but it has also made us accessible to others who want us anywhere and anytime. We have become slaves to the smartphone and Internet. In fact, technology more often than not condemns us to a Sisyphean task of managing it. The film “Her” shows how AI may take over our social lives. In the movie the chief character has a love affair with his AI assistant!
Scientific American has also raised a valid question, “Will democracy survive Big Data and Artificial Intelligence?” Indeed if we look at Facebook’s attempt to determine populations not served or sparsely served by Internet using data from DigitalGlobe we can see the makings of ‘persuasive computing’ where instead of programming computers people are programmed to follow a particular series of actions. AI can be used to make people transparent in terms of data but the governments and big corporates remain opaque.
On the technology track, ISRO made history by launching 104 satellites in one go. What makes ISRO tick and what are its long term plans form the subject of another article which also covers the place of the PSLV among other launchers and whether it constitutes a threat to similar launchers of other countries. Space is a costly venture and open only to governments and people with deep pockets like Elon Musk and Richard Branson. It is a moot point that private space ventures which need to satisfy shareholders can score over government efforts. The US which pioneered privatization of remote sensing satellites has the mortification of seeing its sole venture standing sold to a Canadian company.
But privatization or not, geospatial systems are here to stay. How ready are nations to assimilate geospatial systems? The Global Geospatial Industry Outlook investigates the geospatial readiness of 50 economies representing 75% of the world’s population and 89% of the world’s GDP. The report is summarized in this issue and is available for free download from our portal.
These are turbulent times. Technology is affecting the common person in many ways, both directly and indirectly. It is for the technology sector to be more aware of this and pay attention to the unintended outcomes of their efforts.