Human civilization has transcended from the era of hunters and gatherers to the forefront of the fastest technological advancement, the world has ever seen. Our kind has excelled simultaneously in literature, history, culture, and medicine; and with that, we’ve been blessed with enhancements to our lifestyles and quality of life. The purpose of we humans has extended beyond the sole focus of survival. We venture out to explore the unknown and in our endeavors of doing so; discover new things that will serve as a tool to further our understanding and probe our sphere of knowledge and create new concepts. Dystopia is one such concept.
“An imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice, typically one that is totalitarian or post-apocalyptic.” as defined by the Oxford Dictionary. Although the word “Dystopia” may sound fancy, its meaning is quite harrowing. A post-apocalyptic society where our civilization lay waste with utter annihilation and imminent threat of extinction. As unlikely as it seems, one cannot help but think about the foreseeable future events where our technology brings our own destruction. Be it due to a nuclear fallout caused due to the weapons of mass destruction that we pointed at one another to settle our differences in ideologies, due to an indestructible disease or virus which evolved to become such a side-effect of our advancements in health and technology, or due to a rogue super-advanced Artificial Intelligence crafted from sophisticated technology that we will inevitably create.
Whatever the cause of our speculative dystopian world may be, we always imagine it to be in the distant future; where we won’t be alive to face it. Most of us don’t even take a second to consider the possibility that our perception of the word dystopia may have been exaggerated by the highly imaginative minds of those who have had influence over the mainstream media. There is a likelihood that our thoughts might have been obscured by the fancy description of what is to come. We fail to realize that, perhaps, in between our waiting for the arrival of that dystopian future, our civilization has already been plagued by a subtle dystopia that we’ve been too blind to notice.
It might be due to our fear of being disillusioned by the grand concepts of dystopian fiction that we romanticize so much, or our trend of gradual acceptance of trends that cause the detriment of our society, which has caused us to not recognize it. But it doesn’t debunk the odds of us living in a dystopian world; albeit subtle in nature. Perhaps, where we went wrong was in our failure to recognize that we don’t need some post-apocalyptic scenario, an unstoppable force of nature or a super advanced AI that is going berserk causing mayhem, for our society to be in a state of suffering or their inhabitants to be the victims of injustice. With the advent of the internet, technological advancements, and social media; we have been “blursed”; as the people of the internet say it (blessed as well as cursed). While it indeed has allowed us to exist in a higher state of living, it has also brought upon us the dystopia where there is no privacy, where everything is free but you are the product, where our mental well-being is surmounted by the thoughts of other people in the pyramid of our priority, where we are lingered by the phantasm of free will and freedom of thought; when in reality it is all heavily manipulated by the things we see on the internet.
The future doesn’t manifest itself. It is the actions of today that determine tomorrow. In that perspective, the dystopian future that we imagine cannot rise out of anywhere. Every plant that will grow tomorrow has its seeds planted today. The subtle dystopia that we speak of; might be that seed. We might have inadvertently created the perfect environment for future dystopia while waiting for it to happen or trying to prevent it. Just like how prophecies in myths are vague enough for people to end up fulfilling them on the mission to avert it, our subtle dystopia might be the gateway to opening the floodgates for the real dystopian world and dystopian disaster yet to come. We are already trading our mental well-being and our data in exchange for likes and shares on some social media platforms. We are allowing ourselves to be surveilled by people who know each step that we take and each activity we do. We are allowing our life’s history to be at the disposal of emotionless companies which in conglomeration have the ability to know what we did, and what we are doing. The scary part: predict what we are about to do.
While you’re reading this, In a data center, bytes of data are being uploaded; every bit of information received is being used to more accurately model your thought patterns and behaviors and to research how big corporations can change your decisions. It knows you’ve clicked on the site where this article was published. It also knows where the author was while he was writing this. And that’s only the part that we know. Imagine what is happening behind the confidential walls. Who knows that somewhere in this subtle dystopian world, a bunch of people is brewing a breakthrough technology with noble intentions? But unbeknownst to them, it may bring about the dystopia that we all fear. It may be wild speculation but the chances of it being a hazard that we are too oblivious to notice are equally possible.
The unnerving part of this terrifying delirium which makes it a subtle dystopia is not the fact that the people do not know about this. It is a fact that we choose to ignore all that is happening and turn a blind eye to it. For we have no solution that the people are willing to adopt to avert the oncoming disaster. At this stage, we are sitting ducks brooding the eggs of disaster, unaware of the prowling monster lurking at the threshold of our civilization which will snatch us unaware and drag us spiraling down the turbulent path to the ultimate dystopian future unless we do something about it.
However, all is not yet lost. Never in our historical past have we been successful in establishing a society free of problems. Utopia is practically unachievable and with the realization, we can all work against our flaws that have not yet caused irreversible damage—realizing that our foe isn’t some distant dystopian future but the subtle dystopia of today will be our greatest strength for a steady fast recovery.
On weekends, I and my best buddy Samir liked to go around visiting the cemetery by the Bagmati river. There’s a burial ceremony every other Saturday with the same ritual. First, the cemetery workers dig a decent-sized hole in a free spot. After an hour or so, hordes of vehicles enter through the intersection towards the cemetery following the white van with the corpse on it. The body is put on display and surrounded by flowers. Everyone tries to have a word with the cold body one last time before it is lowered into the ground beneath. People close to the deceased express their prayers over words trying to reason death, the sweet journey of the afterlife engulfing everyone’s speeches. And there is crying, lots and lots of crying. All in all the whole scenario is quite alluring, at least for Samir and I.
Although having this common odd fascination with death, we each had different views on the subject. His was the generally accepted one- that there was life even after death whereas I took the skeptical side- that death was the end of life and heaven and hell were concepts created by mankind to stray away from the haunting reality of nothingness. Taking different perspectives, our conversation always meaningfully explored new nooks and crannies on the subject of death.
Samir studied Business management during the day and tutored some of his neighbor’s kids in the evening while I had my hands full with 2-3 jobs at a time trying to make ends meet in the country’s capital of capitalism. Our personal lives were different too. He lived lavishly with his whole family in his house while I cramped up in a single rented room with myself. But no matter how different and busy our lives were, every weekend the world always aligned perfectly, freeing us from our obligations to provide a couple of hours of spare time for our weekly ritual.
One of these times, however, he bailed out on me to go on a date with his girlfriend. I wasn’t angry at him, just sad coming to realize that I had no one else except him to talk with. In a world of posers, he was the only one I shared my true colors with and now finding out that I was secondary to the only person I could talk to without a mask made me realize how lonely my life actually was. Knowing my imagination would spiral me down to the depths of my depression if I sat in my room, I headed to the cemetery without him.
As Poe would have said ‘the clouds hung oppressively low’ that chilly winter evening. The place was stranded which was unusual. Normally, there would be at least a couple of grave workers cleaning the grounds and a few people walking around or worse, on a date, but today no one was near the cemetery except a young couple walking through the road at a distance with quick steps. It finally dawned on me that it was October 31st, Halloween and even though people here didn’t celebrate the spooky festival, they wouldn’t come to a cemetery today for reasons both obvious and oblivious.
I took a stroll around and came across a freshly dug grave. With no sign of a burial ceremony anywhere near, the place seemed even more strange now. With no one around, the mischievous within me came alive. I jumped into the pit. It was shallower than the usual 6 ft graves. I looked around for a while reassuring myself I wasn’t being watched. Nothing seemed out of place. I laid my body on the damp soil and closed my eyes. “So this is how it feels to be buried”, I said to myself. It felt surprisingly comfortable lying a fathom deep into the earth, although the constant fear of someone closing up the pit mongered in the back of my head. As I tried to lift my body, my right hand didn’t sink into the damp soil the way the left did. There was something round buried under the ground. I sat up and started to remove the mud that surrounded whatever-that-was cautiously, so that I wouldn’t damage it.
It was a lamp, not too different from the one I saw on Aladdin- the movie. I climbed up from the pit and dusted off the little bits of mud that had stuck on the lamp. It seemed to be made of brass but was quite heavy for its size. Out of sheer curiosity, I rubbed it with my palm for a while. Nothing came out of it. I rubbed it with the sleeves of my shirt to see if it needed extra friction. It didn’t work either. I stifled a big laugh at my own naive stupidity. Judging from the heaviness of the lamp, I anticipated some long-lost treasure inside the lamp and decided to open it. At first, the tarnished brass didn’t budge so I had to pull it with all my might. After some jerks, the lid came off- whoosh.
Out of the opening came black smoke, at first dispersing everywhere, high-fiving the clouds and then accumulating into a bulky figure of a ghastly appearance. The whole place became eerily silent as the demonic angel opened his mouth,“Who is thy mortal that hath summoned me from my sleep?” he asked.
Doubtful, more than afraid, about the contrasting appearance of the genie that I had summoned I replied “Hello”
“Well well, you seem to be thrilled, ask any wish thy want fulfilled.” spoke the beast.
“Any… wish?”, I tried to bargain with the devil.
“From heaven’s trickling elixir fountain to the haunting bells of hell, if you can give the word, I can cast the spell ” stated the genie and laughed with all his might.
“I wish to be immortal” I smirked without any hesitation.
“Are you sure?”, he seemed astonished.
Finding out I had made even the demon worried, I chuckled “Yes, I’m sure”.
He then started chanting some mantras that I couldn’t decipher. The only words I could understand were “pleasure”, “away” and “death”. After he ended his chants, he gave me a sly grin and turned into a silhouette, vanishing into the clouds. I couldn’t understand why he would be smiling and rested on the conclusion that he wanted to seem tough even though he had made a terrible mistake, giving mere mortal godly power.
Over the next few days, I tried to kill myself in controlled conditions to see if what I had witnessed was real and not a hologram prank. At first, I constrained myself from drinking water. When I got thirsty just after an hour, I thought the genie’s wish was fake. But after dragging myself through one whole day without drinking, I wasn’t thirsty anymore. Rather, my body was replenished as if having been hydrated from within. I tried to drown myself but after suffocating for a few minutes, I could breathe underwater like a fish. Every part of my body was immortal. I even tried to cut my veins but no blade proved itself to be sharp enough. I would never wound myself, even the smallest of cuts, ever.
I was elated- everything a man feared just seemed pathetic to me now. Rising over every mere mortal, I was on cloud nine. Jumping out of cliffs and swimming with the sharks became my hobbies. However, the genie’s grin always lingered in my mind- the devious curve of his lips, the sparkle glaring out of his eyes, and his elevated cheeks as he finalized his chant.
Years passed and along with it centuries and millenniums. I tried to lay low for a time thinking that if people knew about my secret, they would try to trap me and they did too for a while after my secret went public. But they soon let go of me as it was no crime to not die. I had lost any empathetic emotions toward any people as the human attachment was only short-lived for me. I never aged as no part of me, even my skin never died. But after a while, in my time scale, nothing would stay the same.
Some thousand years into my existence, scientists had gone way too far performing experiments that people lived in constant fear of the many ways science could kill them. There was a big rumor that someone was playing with the Higgs field and everyone was scared to think about what would happen if it went out of hand. A few months passed and one day the false vacuum got triggered. When it crushed everything out, the feeble human civilization also got wiped out of existence. The sun, the stars, everything got obliterated into sub-atomic entities, everything except the immortal me.
Now, there is no light, no sound, no air, nothing. It doesn’t matter if I close my eyes or open them, for all I see is darkness. No senses are of any use. But I do feel cold, not because of the freezing temperature around me, but due to the loneliness inside my heart. As I drift into oblivion, I finally understand the devil’s chants. He was taking the pleasure of death away from me – because that’s what it was, death, a pleasure. It didn’t matter what there was after death, even if there was anything I would never know. All I now know is that death was an escape route from the burden of reality that had now been stripped away from me. The genie’s sly grin is the only thing that fills my head as I drift forever into nothingness- trapped for eternity.
Collaborating with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supplies, SOMES (Society of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Students) conducted a program on “Industry 4.0” on Pulchowk Campus on Friday. With the Deputy HoD of Thapathali Campus, Sushant Raj Giri as the main speaker, the program focused on educating students on the Fourth industrial revolution; its effects, and opportunities in Nepal. JB Consultancy provided the required expertise and funding for the event.
After three prior industrial revolutions each in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries respectively, the arrival of the 21st gave rise to a fourth one. Industry 4.0 focuses on evolving automated machines into autonomous ones, the difference being that autonomous machines are self-learning and utterly independent of humans. In contrast, automated ones need humans to set them up. The major components of Industry 4.0 are AI, machine learning, smart sensors, cloud computing, and IoT(Internet of Things). With remote surveillance through cloud computing, assessing the market needs through deep learning algorithms, and fault prognosis of machine components through health monitoring sensors, Industry 4.0 promises a higher production rate, better efficiency, and product optimization.
Most of Nepal’s educated and skilled manpower in the industry sector either stagnate through long unemployment periods, settle for a job unrelated to their core competency or flee abroad in search of a better opportunity. Industry 4.0 can help to fill the gap between the availability and demand of such skilled manpower.
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supplies aims to implement Industry 4.0 in Nepal’s agricultural sector first. To boost production rates and cut off the middlemen who cause price hikes, by directly connecting farmers and consumers, Industry 4.0 can help build an optimized Nepali agriculture market.
The rise of autonomy has started to sprout in Nepal and its industries, among which Hongshi Cement seems to have a better understanding and application of the concept in comparison to its fellow Nepali counterparts. To compete with the global market production and product optimization trend and to have its citizens working in state-of-the-art technology industries, Nepal needs to comprehend, incorporate and implement “Industry 4.0” within its industries.
नविन उपकरण र प्रविधिको विकासले जब विश्वको अर्थतन्त्रलाई छुट्टै मार्गमा परिचालन गर्दै त्यसको बृहत् अभिवृद्धि गराउछ, त्यो फड्कोलाई औधोगिक क्रान्तिको संज्ञा दिईन्छ। जेम्स वाटको वाष्प ईन्जीनको आविस्कार र विश्वव्यापी प्रयोगले १८औ शताब्दीमा मानवश्रमलाई यन्त्रीकरण गरेसंगै पहिलो औद्योगिक क्रान्तिको आरम्भ भयो । विधुतीय उर्जा र त्यसबाट संचालित ठुलो-उत्पादनका यन्त्रहरुले १९औ शताब्दीमा दोस्रो औद्योगिक क्रान्ति ल्याए । कम्प्युटर र इलेक्ट्रोनिक्सको विकासले जन्माएको स्वचालित यन्त्रका मद्दतले तेस्रो औद्योगिक क्रान्ति विस्तारित भयो । यी तीन क्रान्ति पश्चात, यन्त्रहरुको स्वायत्त सिकाई (मसिन लर्निङ्ग), कृत्रिम विवेक (आर्टीफिसिअल इन्टेलिजेन्स) र क्लाउड कोम्पुटिंगले २१औ शताब्दीमा सुरुवात गरेको चौथो औद्योगिक क्रान्ति हो – “ इन्डस्ट्री ४.० “
जर्मन सरकारले सन् २०११ तयको आद्योगिक क्षेत्रलाई डिजिटल प्रविधिले आधुनिकरण गरेर उत्पादकत्व को अभिवृद्धि गर्ने प्रयासलाई दिएको नाम हो “ इन्डस्ट्री ४.० ” । इन्डस्ट्री ४.० अन्तर्गत बिग डाटा, डाटा म्यानेजमेन्ट, स्मार्ट सेन्सर, क्लाउड कोम्पुटिंग, I.o.T(इन्टरनेट अफ थिन्ग्स), आर्टीफिसिअल इन्टेलिजेन्स र मसिन लर्निङ्ग पर्दछन ।
कारखानाका जटिल कामहरुलाई इन्डस्ट्री ४.० ले सहजीकरण मात्र गर्दैन, उत्पादन प्रक्रियालाई अप्टिमाइज गरेर उत्पादकत्वको वृद्धि पनि गराउछ। उदाहरणका लागि मेसिन लर्निङ्गको प्रयोगवाट बजारको मागको पूर्वानुमान गरेर सोही अनुसारको उत्पादन गर्न सकिन्छ । डाटा सेन्सरहरुका मद्दतले कारखानाका उपकरणमा आउन सक्ने खराबी र कमजोरीहरुको पूर्वानुमान गरि ठुलो हानीहरुबाट बचाउन सकिन्छ । सम्पूर्ण उत्पादन प्रक्रियालाई इन्टरनेट र क्लाउड कोम्पुटिंगद्वारा घरमै बसेर निरिक्षण गर्न मिल्छ । उत्पादन देखि लिएर वितरण, सप्लाई चेन तथा ग्राहकको प्रतिक्रिया र माग बुझ्न समेत इन्डस्ट्री ४.० ले मद्दत पुर्याउछ ।
नेपालको सन्दर्भमा इन्डस्ट्री ४.० एक नया पदावली भएर आउदा र धेरै नेपालीहरु एस बिसयमा अविज्ञ भएपनि, यसले नेपालीहरुलाई असर परेको छैन भने भन्न मिल्दैन। इन्डस्ट्री ४.० का एयाप्लिकेसन हामीले हरेक दिन अनुभव गर्दछौ । हामीले गूगलमा केहि कुरा सर्च गर्यौ भने एक घण्टापछि हामीलाई युटूब र इन्स्ताग्रामले तेसैको एड देखाउछ । यो प्रविधि पनि इन्डस्ट्री ४.० अन्तर्गत पर्दछ । हामीले चालाउने स्मार्टफोन र स्मार्टवाच सबै इन्डस्ट्री ४.० का उपकरणहरु हुन् ।
नेपालका उद्योगलाई इन्डस्ट्री ४.० संग जोड्नका लागि नेपाल सरकार,उद्योग, वाणिज्य तथा आपूर्ति मन्त्रालयले एस बिसयका बिज्ञ र उद्योगका व्येक्तित्वहरु संग छलफलहरु थालेको छ । उद्योग, वाणिज्य तथा आपूर्ति मन्त्रालयको पहल र JB कन्सल्टेन्सी को परामर्शमा इन्डस्ट्री ४.० अन्तरगत अहिलेसम्म तिन कार्यक्रमहरु आयोजना गरिएको छ । नेपालका शिक्षित जनशक्ति विदेश पलायन हुने होड चर्किदै गर्दा, उद्योगमा इन्डस्ट्री ४.०को संलग्नताले उनीहरुलाई नेपालमै विदेसीस्तरको रोजगारी प्रदान गर्न सक्छ। हालको समयमा मन्त्रालयको रुचि रहेको कृषि क्षेत्रमा इन्डस्ट्री ४.० ले उत्पादन वृद्धि त गर्छ नै, साथै कृषक र बिक्रेता बिचको सम्पर्कदाता बनिदिएर बिचौलियाहरुलाई हटाउन पनि मद्दत गर्छ ।
अटोमेसनबाट अटोनोमीतिर लम्किरहेको विश्वमा नेपालले आफु र आफ्ना जनतालाई अग्रसर पार्नका लागि उद्योग, कृषि, शिक्षा तथा नीतिगत क्षेत्रमा इन्डस्ट्री ४.० लाई बुझेर आत्मसात् गर्न अत्यन्त जरुरी छ।
‘National Mechanical Engineering Seminar 2020’ was held at National Academy for Science and Technology. The program was conducted as a pre-event to upcoming 11th National Mechanical Engineering Seminar ‘MechTRIX 2020’. Co-ordinated by Pankaj Mehta side by side with Dipesh Kunwar and Rupesh Dahal, the main motto of this seminar was to provide insights on different topics to young engineering minds. Campus chief, Mr.Laxman Poudel, as a chief guest and SOMES president, Mr. Nabin Raj Chaulagain, as the chairperson, the event was successfully conducted with the active participation of 75+ enthusiastic participants.
Welcoming the chairperson,
chief guest, speakers and all the participants, the host for the Sandesh
Parajuli, officially started the program. Our first speaker, Dr. Suresh Kumar
Dhungel (Senior Technologist and spokesperson at NAST) was very excited to
present engineering students about Nano-Technology. Pointing out “Waste isn’t
‘a waste’ until it’s wasted”,Mr. Nabin Bikash Maharjan(CEO, Blue Waste to Value
Pvt. Ltd) gave us insight on his company’s projects on waste management through
Matching the theme of
upcoming exhibition ‘MechTRIX 2020’, For a Better Tomorrow, the foreign
speaker, Mr.Joshua Menkie, and his topic of presentation ‘Future Energy System
‘ made the event more profound. Very energetic speaker, Mr. Utsav Prasad
Sharma, perfectly explained about safely, hazards and environmental health
related to aircrafts. Breaking the monotonous note of only speaking and
listening, a Q/A session was held at the end of every speaker. Asking of
questions and clearing of doubts made the seminar more interactive and fruitful.
participants, and volunteers along with active support from SOMES members
played important role in successful commencement of the event. The first major
pre-event also provided us a platform to welcome everyone to MechTRIX 2020. So,
book your dates on Magh 24, 25 and 26 and witness the thrill and excitement of MechTRIX
2020. ‘Along with #VisitNepal2020, its #VisitMechTRIX2020.