In the field of energy, agriculture, entertainment, medicine, armament, space, computer application, communication, transportation, to name just a few areas, science has revolutionised our life. It has helped man conquer diseases, distance, space and the forces of nature.
Nations have come much closer now to one another and the interdependence, cooperation and interaction among them have tremendously increased. The whole world has now turned into a global village.
Man’s thirst for knowledge, discovery, inventions and self- expansion are limitless. He is an ambitious and highly intelligent being always engaged in pushing farther and farther the limits of his knowledge and enlightenment. Science is the name of the process by which man satisfies these urges and aspirations. Science has helped in understanding and solving the mysteries of nature.
And it is just a beginning because the knowledge is very vast, deep, limitless and wonderful. The beginning has been marvellous and augurs well for the humanity. Man is now on board in excellent ship of science in the vast and uncharted oceans of knowledge. So, he is ready to face any challenge, brave any storm, however violent and strong. The search, the quest for the truth goes on, on and on.
Science has made life easy, convenient, comfortable, better and more meaningful. Science has made many dreams come true. It has helped him to reach the moon and other planets and soon he may go beyond the solar system in a- very big way.
Satellite communication has ushered in an unprecedented revolution in information technology. Fax, E-mail, videoconferencing, roaming mobile phones, etc., is now very common things. Information technology has entered into the era of internet, worldwide web, highway and super highway.
The discovery of atomic energy and its increasing use has been one of the greatest achievements of modern science. It has been as significant as the discovery of the wheel and fire in the primitive stage of human progress and evolution.
It has opened new floodgates of progress, development and achievements, despite the tragedies like Chernobyl where a nuclear reactor exploded on April 28, 1986, which sent a huge cloud of radiation over Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark besides Russia itself.
Science is knowledge, and knowledge is power. Now, we must know how to use this power to our advantage and not to our destruction and ruin. Science in itself is neither good nor evil and neither, blessing nor a curse. It is its use which makes it good or bad.
That is why it is rightly said that science is a good servant but a bad master. Science is a means and not an end in itself and should be used as a servant, as a means, an implement to improve the quality of life. The misuse and abuse of science and its inventions are bound to make life horrible, a nightmare and trauma. That is certain and man must set his priorities, programmes and policies in the light of this bare fact.
In the fields of medicine, hygiene, .nutrition and surgery, the achievements of science have been equally excellent. Heart-transplantations and that of other organs are now very common. Many fatal diseases have been eradicated or are on the way of eradication.
And yet diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, cancer, etc. are to be conquered and eradicated. Necessity is the mother of invention. It is these challenges which inspire scientists to move on forward to new and better discoveries, achievements and inventions.
Today, man feels more safe, secure and healthy in comparison to his forefathers. Man’s longevity and life expectancy have now considerably increased and child and infant mortality decreased.
Science has completely changed our outlook on life and things and many superstitions and blind beliefs are now things of the past. Remote satellite sensing helps us in forewarning of floods, earthquakes, droughts and other such natural calamities. Epidemics, famines, etc. are now no more there on such scales and frequencies as they used to be a half century ago.
In the field of entertainment, the boom in cinema, television, video, recorded music and cable network has brought entertainment to our door-steps and into our pockets.
The technological and scientific wonders in the fields of biotechnology, genetic engineering, computer application, superconductivity, etc. have been really superb.
Now, hybridisation of genes is possible under which a piece of DNA of one organism can be grafted on the DNA of another organism. Thus, ‘cloning’ has opened up vast opportunities and limitless possibilities in the field.
Similarly, a new generation of robots has taken the world by storm. A time was there when robots existed in science fiction only. Today, there are thousands of industrial robots.
The first ever robot was produced in America in 1960. Since then, robotics has come a very long way of progress and phenomenal success. For example, Japanese scientists recently exhibited the humanoid robot or P-2, a remarkable man-machine which could walk, wander, detect and avoid obstacles.
These new generation robots are wonder machines which can think and possess sense and even feel. These are remarkable advancements in the– field of artificial and mechanical intelligence which make man really proud.
The landing of American Sojourner Rover on Mars and it’s amazing exploratory work on the frozen Martian surface is another big achievement of modern science. The victory of the Deep Blue over the legendary Garry Kasparov is another example of scientific strides in the recent days.
The IBM super computer Deep Blue created a chess history by defeating the reigning world champion in a classical match of the chess. But, it should not be taken as victory of the machine over man.
It is ultimately man who won because Deep Blue is only a machine and product of human intelligence. It has no brain of its own and no emotions, feelings and imagination at all. In the words of Dr. Feng Hsu, the research scientist connected with this super computer,
“Deep Blue is less intelligent than the stupidest man on the Earth.”
The fear that artificial and mechanical intelligence may enslave mankind and super computers have control on man are baseless and a figment of imagination. Such conceptions have no scientific foundations. No super computer or robot, however intelligent, sophisticated and advanced, can ever be self-determining as man.
They cannot have the mind, creativity, feelings, imagination, hopes, and inspirations of a man. Man is the crown of creation and wisdom, and can never be overtaken by a machine. A machine cannot start by itself. It will always need human help to get going.
It is basically wrong to think in terms of man vs. machine. Machines are for man and not vice versa. Machines are simply tools and implements. They are programmed and set in motion by their maker, the man.