"You'll be able to carry a phone in your pocket in future," read the April 18, 1963 headline of the Mansfield, Ohio News Journal article featuring an image of a woman holding up the pocket-sized wireless telephone, which people will someday carry with them.
The modern mobile phone did not hit the commercial market until the 1980s, but the idea of a pocket phone had been circulating for decades. In 1926, Nicola Tesla predicted people would one day be able to communicate instantly with each other using devices that fit inside a vest pocket.
Today, there are around 6.648 billion smartphone (evolved versions of the hand-held devices) users in the world, meaning about 83.72% of the world's population owns a smartphone. From pocket-sized communication devices to smartphones, the geostationary satellite to vacuum cleaners, the submarine to virtual reality, the cloud to artificial intelligence, technologies that would have been considered science fiction a few decades ago are currently at our disposal.
The technological revolution is radically transforming our societies. Certain technological enhancements have become so ubiquitous that we can hardly imagine a time when we got along without them.
Technological advances like ride-sharing apps have changed how we get from point A to point B, whereas mobile financial services (MFS) have redefined our social experiences around executing financial transactions.
The past decade has witnessed the emergence of several other major tech trends, such as food delivery platforms and music streaming services, effectively improving all aspects of our social, economic, and cultural lives.
Irrespective of the constant developments in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), the search for new forms of advanced technology continues. Scientists, engineers, and sharp minds are introducing groundbreaking technology at a steady pace, ranging from everyday gadgets to high-tech industrial novelties. Technology is slowly rising to a pinnacle point, acting as a development accelerator factor, spreading to every corner of our planet.
In Bangladesh, the persistent spread of networks, sensors, artificial intelligence, automation, and technology in general, is driving a revolution toward achieving the country's vision of becoming 'Digital Bangladesh.' With over 12 crore mobile subscribers and 4.3 core internet subscribers, the country enjoys the fruits of digitisation. The primary objective is to make more services available at the doorsteps of people with increased digitisation wherever possible.
We are already glimpsing the growth of available digital services with regards to registration for admission to educational institutions, publication of examination results, collection of official forms, online submission of tax returns etc. Nowadays, we have SMS services for lodging complaints to police stations, online bill payments, telemedicine services, video conferencing services for treatments, and many other e-services even in the rural areas of the country.
Besides, the inception of online banking systems and MFS have sped up and eased financial activities for everyone. In addition, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic further amplified the scope of digital technologies in Bangladesh with machine learning, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and big data.
This development and adoption in the fields of technology have helped the people in Bangladesh to raise productivity, inclusivity of services, and improve the overall quality of lifestyles. Technology is bringing equality to products and services and minimizing socioeconomic gaps among societies and people. Embracing technology has made learning more interactive, provided better access to resources, and expanded the boundaries of various restrictions. Enhanced meaningful connectivity implies shared human progress and a better future for us all.
However, despite the increasing technological penetration, more efforts are required to leverage technology for financial and digital inclusion. Targeted, informed action is needed to address the needs of the unconnected and the barriers they face to accessing digital technologies. Key obstacles like digital skills, accessibility, relevant content and services, and security concerns should be recognized and acted upon.
Strategies also need to factor in the structural issues underpinning disparities in adoption and use. In order to make a sustainable and substantial difference, we should start working at the fundamental stage, starting with education. For instance, incorporating STEM in education can give people skills that make them more employable and ready to meet the current digital demand.
STEM is at the heart of Bangladesh's innovation, prosperity, and global competitiveness. Encompassing the whole range of experiences and skills, each STEM component brings a valuable contribution to a well-rounded education. Thus, integrating and investing in STEM education can steer us in the right direction of a technology-fueled future.
Likewise, when it comes to increasing digital penetration, technology plays a crucial role in ensuring security and safety. Technology helps with data loss prevention, hardware authentication and provides a comprehensive intrusion prevention system. There is a massive demand for reliable and secure technology for Bangladesh's growth and development.
Hence, maintaining security in all aspects, including manufacturing, workplace, healthcare, and other areas, is imperative.
In the world we live in today, technology is very complex, intricate and exists in many layers. It typically consists of both on-premises and cloud-based systems, company-owned and employee-owned devices, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as cameras and industrial sensors.
In this regard, it has become necessary to prevent damage to technology assets and data by utilizing infrastructure security. A secure infrastructure is the foundation of any successful corporation. Whether it is a small network of three computers or a large network of three million computers, the goal is to maintain the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of data. Therefore, we require proper security infrastructure to boost the development of Bangladesh in all sectors, starting from education institutions to workplaces.
Technology holds the power of transforming our present into a radiant future. One segment of the population, in particular, can help us achieve that future— the youth. Young people represent an important human resource, acting like agents of social change, economic development, and progress.
When they are equipped with the necessary skills, good health, and effective choices, they present an enormous opportunity to transform the future of technology. Nurturing technology talents and startups can quickly help Bangladesh become a 'digital-first' country.
Beyond literacy and numeracy, equipping them with the right digital and transferable skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, communications, and entrepreneurship will allow the county to make significant improvements in technological fields. After all, we need skilled young people to succeed as a nation.
We know that technology can engage, connect, and empower us to a great extent. However, the driving question we should be asking is how well do we use the technology that is available to us to improve what we do. Future technological development and sustainable improvement will depend on how we meet the needs of the present by building the ability of future generations. As windows of opportunities open, we must start acting now.
Nuzhat Hayat Khan is a content specialist
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.