Day 3 took flight with Session 1, centered on the "Future of Technology," with a keynote address by Dr. David Passig, a Techno Futurist. Dr. Passig provided a succinct overview of the driving force behind human technological endeavors, noting our perpetual quest to transcend physical limitations. He eloquently reflected on our species' intelligence, attributing our uniqueness not merely to intellectual prowess but to consciousness. Dr. Passig envisioned a future where our consciousness seamlessly integrates with our tools, particularly in the realm of the Internet of Things (IoT). According to him, the IoT is transitioning into a social net of things, where interconnected entities not only self-regulate but also engage in a symbiotic dance with humanity to enhance our shared environment.
M. B. Patil, Minister for Large & Medium Industries and Infrastructure Development, Government of Karnataka, expressed sincere regrets for being unable to attend the 9th Synergia Conclave due to unforeseen circumstances. He conveyed his best wishes for the event's success, anticipating positive outcomes that would contribute to the growth of the industrial sector and foster a robust industry-driven ecosystem in the state.
Mr. Siva Ganesan, Global Head of TCS Cloud AI unit, explored the dynamic landscape of Generative AI, marking a significant turning point for the industry. The surge in AI capabilities brings about numerous possibilities, spanning audio, video, and images, with vast market potential. However, with this surge comes a host of critical questions about responsible AI implementation. Ganesan emphasized the need for defining guardrails, addressing concerns related to creativity regulation, intellectual property, security implications, and precise administration. As AI ventures into the realm of cognition, the responsibility of ensuring ethical and controlled use becomes paramount. Enterprises grapple with the balance between rapidly adopting AI for exponential gains and establishing the necessary guardrails for responsible use. The nascent nature of this phenomenon signifies an evolving game, where the true extent of what Generative AI can offer is yet to be fully realized.
During the session on "Aligning Technologies to Future Conflicts," Lt Gen M U Nair, National Cyber Security Coordinator, India, delved into the intricate landscape of India's digital infrastructure and its significance in national security. Referencing ongoing conflicts like the Israel-Gaza and Russia-Ukraine situations, he underscored the importance of cybersecurity in safeguarding information and communication technologies (ICT). Lt Gen Nair emphasized the transformative impact of disruptive technologies and the increasing potency of AI, urging countries to collaborate in addressing the challenges posed by these technologies.
Air Marshal Manikantan, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Air Command (SAC), provided valuable insights into the role of technology in shaping future conflicts. Discussing military strength, he highlighted the historical and contemporary relevance of technological innovations. Drawing parallels with the COVID-19 pandemic, he showcased the positive impact of biotechnological advancements on security. Air Marshal Manikantan detailed various technologies such as sensors, AI, machine learning, satellite communication, and predictive analysis that can enhance military operations. He emphasized the importance of a multi-sensor fused information system and the need for advanced training environments using technologies like flight simulators and cloud-based platforms. Concluding his speech, Air Marshal Manikantan highlighted challenges such as rapid proliferation and cyber threats, emphasizing the imperative of identifying and leveraging promising technologies for national security.
Adding to this discourse, Esti Peshin, VP of Cyber Security at Israel Aerospace Industries, addressed the evolving cyber conflict landscape, highlighting threats to physical infrastructure and the rise of influence companies shaping perceptions. She identified trends, including supply chain attacks, media amplification of cyber threats, and increased use of cyber in international conflicts. Stressing the need for cyber resilience, Peshin outlined key components like next-gen forensics, predictive tools, and collaborative frameworks. With the paradigm shift to artificial general intelligence, she emphasized the challenge of maintaining continuity amid evolving threats, calling for a collaborative approach to operational resilience in critical infrastructure and communications.
In the insightful session on 'Aerospace & Defense,' Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari, Chief of Air Staff, India, underscored the pivotal role of technology in shaping the future of warfare and driving innovation in the aerospace sector. He highlighted the transformative impact of converging technologies on the battlefield, emphasizing that their innovative application leads to exponential change. Addressing the applications of disruptive technologies, particularly AI, he emphasized their contribution to enhanced survivability, flexible machinery, and effective combat strategies. The Chief of Air Staff called for collaborative efforts across defense sectors, private industries, academia, and other stakeholders to invest in and align disruptive technologies, ensuring India's armed forces are equipped for success in future conflicts.
During Day 3, Air Vice Marshal John Finbar Monahan discussed "Global Strategic Trends - The Future Starts Today." He highlighted demographic shifts, climate change opportunities in green technology, and the growing role of space in internet delivery. Monahan also emphasized economic transformation, energy transition, and the democratizing impact of mobile phones on global relations.
In a discussion with Mr. Almaimouni Ahmed Ali, Director of the Research and Studies Center at the Rasanah Institute in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the focus was on the current geopolitical dynamics in the Middle East and their implications. Mr. Almaimouni Ali stressed the importance of leveraging technology to improve the lives of people in the region, emphasizing the need for increased investments in cybersecurity and intelligence. Analyzing the instability in the Middle East, he highlighted five major complexities, including geographical competition among regional and global powers, security challenges leading to arms races and conflicts, the global impact of vast oil and natural gas reserves, deep-seated sectarian and ethnic divisions, and the destabilizing effects of conflicts like the Israeli-Hamas situation. Mr. Almaimouni Ali concluded by advocating for leaders who support win-win solutions and emphasized the necessity of global dialogue to address the challenges in the Middle East.
In the session on 'The Future of the Indian Ocean,' Mr. Patrick Mendis, a former US diplomat and military professor, provided insights into China's strategy to encircle the Indian Ocean. Analyzing China's geopolitical moves, Mendis highlighted its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), artificial island construction in the South China Sea, and strategic actions in Taiwan and Sri Lanka. China's focus on control over the Brahmaputra and Mekong Rivers as a political weapon was emphasized. He concluded with the notion of China's 'Blue Dragon Strategy' to encircle the Indian Ocean. Additionally, Mr. Jayadeva Ranade, Former Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, provided insights into US-China relations, emphasizing China's unchecked expansionism, potential reunification with Taiwan, and the shrinking window for both China and the US to assert their positions on the global stage.
In a dynamic convergence of technology, diplomacy, and security, the 9th SYNERGIA CONCLAVE 2023 provided a profound exploration of future landscapes. From the fusion of consciousness and technology to geopolitical analyses, the sessions underscored the imperative for responsible innovation and collaborative security efforts. As the Conclave concludes, its impact resonates in steering global narratives towards innovation, resilience, and shared international goals.