Artificial Intelligence

Normal computers can only perform complicated calculations and solve logical problems. They can be programmed to play chess. But it cannot play chess better than the person who programmed it. It sorts out many possible consequences of a move and makes an actual move. But intelligence is not merely reasoning, analysing and decision making. It also involves grasping a situation and deciding about how to tackle it. Artificial intelligence requires a computer which can first learn the rules of any specific signal processing and then apply them to solve the related problem. Learning and adaptive computers are developed nowadays. Experiments are being done to define intelligence clearly and build it into computers, even though for specific jobs.

Semiconductors

A semiconductor is a material whose ability to conduct electric current is greater than that of an insulator, but less than that of metals. Eg: Silicon and Germanium. The ability of a semiconductor to conduct depends on their purity or impurity. A pure crystal of silicon or germanium acts more like an insulator but if an impurity is added to it, it becomes more conductive. In useful semiconductors, 1 ton of silicon may contain 1mg of arsenic. Even this amount of arsenic supplies surplus electrons to silicon, which then becomes a better conductor. Such a piece of silicon is called an n-type semiconductor. Similarly tiny amount of boron would cause a different kind of conduction to take place and the piece of silicon so treated would be called a p-type semiconductor. Introduction of small impurities to semiconductor crystals is called doping.

Laser

LASER - Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.

Laser light is made up of waves of same wavelength. All the waves in a laser beam are organised to proceed exactly in one step with each other. This property is called coherence. As a result of coherence, a laser beam can travel large distances without spreading apart. There is large concentration of energy per unit area on the object on which the laser beam falls.

Applications
  1. Laser can cut any kind of material even steel
  2. In military for defense
  3. In medicine for surgery as it is sterile. Eye operations, to burn damaged tissue and to do surgery without bleeding.
  4. Optic fibre communication
  5. To measure long distances. Eg: Moon to earth.

Nuclear Fission

Nuclear fission is the splitting of a large nucleus into two smaller nuclei. If neutrons were shot at the nuclei of Uranium 235, the nuclei will split into two and produce other neutrons to repeat the process. Energy released during nuclear fission is, E = MC^2

When an atom nucleus splits, it throws out two or three more neutrons along with the release of energy. These neutrons again split 3 other atoms. This goes on and is called a chain reaction. Controlled chain reaction is achieved by absorbing the extra neutrons, which is the working principle of nuclear reactors.

Technology Transfer

There are 3 ways in which we can transfer our technology

1. Import of Technology

This involves transferring the essential expertise associated with the capabilities of more developed nations to lesser developed nations, who require it for accelerated industrialisation. It can be done through licensing, joint ventures with foreign firms, direct foreign investments etc. Its efficiency depends on factors like suppliers' ability and desire to transfer, the recipients capacity and desire to absorb, the recipient's socio-economic and cultural environment and communications processes. The major gain of technology import is that we can save money, time and energy by skipping R & D stages the developed countries had to go through.

There are some disadvantages as well. For eg: Buying technology may be very expensive. For eg: Defense aircraft from France, we are paying for R & D as well. Further R & D in our country gets stagnated. Imported technology often comes with restrictions or 'Political Strings' attached to it by the supplier. Eg: India's import of enriched Uranium from USA was stopped as India refused to sign Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which was not part of the original contract. 

Supplier gives obsolete technology sometimes at very high costs. Since the receiving country does not have the technology, it may not even know how outdated the offered technology may be. Eg: In India, we still use 1.2 Litre engines in automobiles which is not in use in developed countries. The receiving country may have to depend permanently on the donor country especially in defense equipments. The donor may insist that the spare parts must be brought from them. Thereby not allowing us to be self-sufficient.

When a country imports technology for the same industry from different countries, the spare parts won't fit into various models. Eg: Suzuki, Hyundai use different spare parts. Sometimes the technical know how is transferred to developing countries on the condition that they don't share it with other developing countries. This ensures direct hold over different countries.

2. Lab to Field

We need to achieve self-reliance by developing indigenous technology in all areas. National Research and Development Corporation of India (NRDC) was set up in 1953 for facilitating transfer of technology from laboratories to the field. Policy making should emphasis on developing indigenous technology. 

3. Export of Technology

India has gained experience and expertise in various fields of technology. Thus we can assist a lot of developing nations. We export software technologies to almost all countries in the world.

Importance Of Research And Development In Creating Wealth Continuously

Research and development is an important factor for modernisation and international competitiveness. Research and development in a process of production can lead to 
  • Invention of new production processes
  • Improvements of the existing one
Application of newly discovered scientific principles as a result of research are almost inevitably followed by technological developments which give rise to new industries creating wealth. Part of this new wealth is invested back to research and for training personnel. Intensive research leads to fresh scientific discoveries which give rise to new technological developments providing newer means of creating wealth. Eg: Japan, USA.

Technology from ISRO has been licensed to 27 industries till 1985. Thus our space research programme leads to industrial growth in related fields. Japan was a less developed country but they tried to modernise themselves by importing technology and they improved the imported technology by
  1. Creating R&D facilities for adaptation and further improvement of imported technology
  2. Constant efforts to improve technology through their own scientific manpower trained abroad
  3. Creating a base of scientific human resource to improve their educational system and training facilities
R&D in India have mainly been in government sector. Private industries must come forward to facilitate R&D facilities within the industry itself, which is the reason of the success of developed countries.

Cost of Steel Production

Q) Inspite of having the best iron ores and low labour costs, why is the unit cost of steel production in India higher than that in developed countries?

Industry has been unwilling to invest its profits in modernising machinery. The industrial policy resolution and scientific policy resolution has not been implemented effectively due to socio-economic and political constraints. Our unit cost of production is high because of the low levels of skill and management in our industries. Most of the workers are illiterate as well. For eg: Japan imports iron ore from India, they have higher labour cost but because of the efficiency in their production systems, their unit cost of production is lower than ours. We have imported technology for alloy steels 30 years ago. But we have not been able to keep pace with the modern developments in alloy steel production through our efforts. As a result, we still import steel from developed countries.
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