KARACHI: Pakistan is trapped in the natural resource-based economy and to emerge as a strong nation we need to make education, science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship the key drivers of socio-economic development.

By 2025, 12 disruptive technologies would make an impact on the world and it is suggested that they would generate revenue of around $100 trillion. The local experts should focus on advanced robotics, autonomous and near-autonomous vehicles, next-generation genomics, energy storage, mobile internet, automation of knowledge work, internet of things, cloud, 3D printing, advanced materials, advanced oil and gas exploration and recovery and renewable energy to become part of that gigantic global economic output.

These views were expressed by Chairman of Prime Minister’s National Task Force on Science and Technology Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rahman on Saturday. He was the chief guest at the opening session of the two-day second International Conference on Information Science and Communication Technology.

The ICISCT was organised by the Department of Computer Science, University of Karachi, at the Prof Salimuzzaman Siddiqui auditorium, Hussain Ebrahim Jamal Research Institute of Chemistry, KU.

He informed the audience that the Pakistani government would spend around Rs50 billion in areas such as artificial intelligence, IoT, big data, cybersecurity and related technologies.

He shared that all government software contracts would only go to local companies to boost local business and special technology zones would be established.

Knowledge is now the main driving force of world economics and Singapore, which is only 865 square kilometres in size with five million population, has exports of around $330bn and it focused on human resources and high-tech exports.

Meanwhile, the guest of honour, member of the National Assembly Dr Syeda Shahida Rehmani, said that information technology was changing the world.

“It is influencing the way we think, the way we behave and the way we do our tasks, which is why the tools [of] information and communication technology should be studied and adapted as soon as possible and as efficiently as possible, so that we, as a country, can keep up our pace with the rest of the world.”

She said that only a very small percent graduated from university with a bachelor’s degree. This puts a heavy responsibility on the educated person to play a positive role in the economy and overall productivity of the country.

Dr Rehmani mentioned that the culture of academic conferences was popular all over the world, and it had recently been on the rise in Pakistan as well.

Acting Vice Chancellor of the KU Prof Dr Khalid Mahmood Iraqi said that this conference had offered “us the opportunity to join hands together” for shaping the future of sustainable development in the area of information and communication technology.

He observed that development and growth supported by research and knowledge were the prime responsibilities of universities towards their societies. He mentioned that communication was the most prominent sphere having come up with amazing phenomena almost in each part of the global village.

Prof Khalid Iraqi said that unprecedented advancements in IT and communications had their strong impact on social, economic, political and all other fields of life. This tremendous progress, at the same time, placed a sense of responsibility of maintaining equitable, just and a sustainable environment all over.

“Today’s life is rapidly becoming largely reliant on knowledge-based technologies. The information technology has overwhelmingly influenced the entire world and the global ecology,” he said.

Chairman of the DSC Prof Dr Muhammad Sadiq Ali Khan said the conference would cover a variety of topics such as algorithm, AI, communication and networks, IoT, cloud computing and big data, theoretical computer science and software system, nanotechnology, information security, and cybersecurity, energy-efficient system in computer, networks, innovative technology and services and others.

He said the ICISCT was meant to bridge the communication gap between academics and professionals locally and internationally.

The conference co-chair, Prof Dr B.S. Chowdhry, said that ICISCT was providing a platform for bringing together leading academicians, researchers and scholars to exchange and share their latest research results on all aspects of information sciences and communication technology.

Prof Dr Jonathan Andrew Ware from the University of South Wales, United Kingdom, while presenting his keynote address, shared that worldwide, maintaining the health and safety of construction workers was a major problem. In the United Kingdom construction industry alone, on average 39 people were killed each year and countless others seriously injured. To help reduce the risks, various countries had adopted a range of methodologies and approaches to help foresee potential problems and put in place measures to mitigate them.

In the UK, Risk Assessment Method Statements (RAMS) were widely used as a means of helping manage construction work and to help ensure that the necessary precautions had been communicated to those involved. RAMS were reviewed by various people in the chain of command of a construction project before being signed off.

However, this review process was not without significant issues. One of the issues was the inconsistent understanding, review, development and dissemination of RAMS. To overcome some of the problems associated with the review of RAMS, a tripartite partnership between Aurora International Consulting, IBM Watson, and the University of South Wales, were developing an artificial intelligence-enabled RAMS review system that helps facilitate textbook safety review every time.

A fully functioning version of the prototype has the potential to revolutionise safety in the industry worldwide.

Another keynote speaker, Dr Jim Buckley, senior lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Limerick, Ireland, focused on helping software developers to undertake the complex tasks required by them when developing and maintaining software systems.

During the first day, Dr Raziq Yaqub from Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Alabama A&M University, Alabama, US, delivered his keynote address on Cyber Secure Electric Areal Vehicles (Drones) while Mohammad Helmy Abd Wahab from the Department of Computer Engineering, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, enlightened the audience on Internet of things: Moving forward to IR4.0 whereas Dr D.M. Akbar Hussain from the Department of Energy Technology Section for Power Electronics Systems presented his keynote address on ‘Bayesian Framework to Determine Strengths and Weaknesses of Nodes in Social Networks’.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2020