Science & Technology for Today & Tomorrow
by K. Ananth Krishnan

Ananth Krishnan explained the work done by TCS Research and Innovation, and how they have an enormous opportunity to innovate due to their association with the world’s best industries and institutions. At TCS Research, there are more than 6000 researchers, innovators and inventors. Foundational research is done in the areas of computing, mathematical sciences, behavioural sciences, life sciences, and physical sciences, while the Core Innovation Network (COIN) is involved with strategic relationships with academia, start-ups, accelerators, venture capitalists, and alliance partners. They work with industry, markets, society, and digital technologies to create new platforms and services that benefit the larger context of the TCS world, and make an impact in the world.

He elaborated on a model that considers the current and future jobs to be done for customers, and the current and future capabilities (the existing inventions and business models; the future set of capabilities that need to be established). The tasks that people will do in future will be done by an intersection of industries. In the context of jobs and capabilities that do not exist at present, the idea is to invent a technology and analyse what people will do with that technology. The four sections/quadrants in this model are:

(1) Adaptive enterprise

The last two years have taught that nothing can be taken for granted. Hence, all enterprises need to adapt. For example, the way students learnt coding in the 1970s and 1980s is not what it is today, and successors ten years later would learn it differently. How do you manage coding at scale? Code, by itself, has enormous possibilities. Can you write green code? That is, can you reduce the amount of energy consumed while running the code? There is an opportunity to do this differently.

(2) Human + Machine

Can existing jobs (e.g. agriculture) be made to “sing and dance” in the context of artificial intelligence (AI), making them AI-led enterprises? Can they be made more economical and scalable? Can a bank regulation, written by lawyers, be read and converted to a machine-readable form? Can it be made as a dynamic engine that can mimic the bank? Can a twin to a customer be created?

(3) Connected ecosystems

Industries and boundaries are changing. In this quadrant, the focus is on technologies that make connectedness easy. Can we create a marketplace where data can be bought and sold? Internet of Things (IoT), by itself, is a natural ecosystem technology. It is necessary to imagine jobs with the technology. The business model is still emerging, and scientists are working with entrepreneurs in this regard.

(4) Science-led future

Here, the focus is on breakthrough technologies, and big problems. The thought is not only about the technology but also on the jobs that the technology can be put to use to. “If I do this, it will solve an important need in the market.”

The talk ended with Ananth Krishnan speaking about the different ways in which IISc and TCS are engaging with each other – in terms of collaborative research projects, consultancy, joint laboratories, research advisory, research sabbatical programs, internships, consultancy, and sponsored research.

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