AI has begun understanding humans better than we know ourselves: ISRO Chairman S Somanath

He pointed to how digital algorithms can analyse online human behaviours to create detailed digital profiles that predict preferences.

ByVani Vyshnavi J

Published May 27, 2024 | 8:00 PM Updated May 27, 2024 | 8:00 PM

ISRO chairman S Somanath

AI technologies have begun understanding humans better than we know ourselves, said Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman S Somanath.

He was speaking at an event hosted by the Atria Institute of Technology in Bengaluru from 24 to 26 May.

The event — organised in collaboration with esteemed bodies such as VTU, AICTE, VSS Trust, ABVP, and Yuvaka Sangha — had the theme “AI for Sustainability”.

Somanath gave an insightful analysis of the revolutionary possibilities of artificial intelligence, drawing from his experiences of hearing Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, during a space-focused conference in Azerbaijan.

Also Read: ISRO to involve private players to turn Indian space sector, says Somanath

On AI taking over human life

Talking about AI understanding humans better than humans understand themselves, Somanath noted how digital algorithms can analyse our online behaviours to create detailed digital profiles that predict our preferences and behaviours.

This capability, he argued, was just the beginning of a potential future where AI could become so advanced that it might subtly take over many aspects of human life.

He particularly cited its impact on financial markets, where complex algorithms already outperform human traders.

Somanath’s insights shed light on the transformative potential of AI and its implications for various sectors, including engineering and technology.

Despite these challenges, Somanath emphasised that human emotional intelligence and conscience offer a unique advantage over machines.

He urged the audience — particularly students — to leverage these human qualities and to engage deeply with emerging technologies that could shape the future of engineering and technology.

Also Read: Studies suggest more ice on moon within exploitable depths, says ISRO

Fusing AI with sustainable behaviours

The ISRO chairman also outlined key areas for exploration in the field of engineering, including Virtual Reality (VR), 3D printing, agriculture and sustainability, robotics, and green logistics.

Somanath said he envisioned a future in which technology would drive environmental conservation and improve human well-being by fusing AI with sustainable behaviours.

His speech concluded with an insightful reflection on the interdependency of various engineering disciplines.

He emphasised that emerging new technological sectors were inevitable and beneficial, signalling growth and the need for continuous advancement.

He illustrated this point by sharing a personal anecdote from his college days: A project involving the design of a fountain, which he said laid the foundational skills and insights that later contributed to his work on rocket technology at ISRO.

By connecting his early educational experiences to his professional achievements, Somanath was seen as inspiring the students to view their current projects and studies as crucial stepping stones towards their future careers.

He shared examples of how seemingly unrelated projects and skills could converge to achieve significant technological breakthroughs, drawing parallels to the diverse range of projects and studies undertaken by the students at the event.

His message highlighted the importance of embracing new opportunities in emerging fields while recognizing the interconnected nature of all engineering domains.