PM Modi says technology must be used for progress, not destruction

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In a powerful message before a global audience, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday cautioned the world against mankind fashioning tools of destruction through technology and misuse of cyberspace for radicalisation.

Addressing the sixth edition of the World Government Summit hosted by the United Arab Emirates government as the “Guest of Honour” this year, he also gave a clarion call to the world to unite on issues like long-distance online education through which poor children can be provided education.

In his keynote address on the last leg of his two-day visit to the UAE, heard in rapt attention by Dubai’s Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde packed to its capacity of over 1,000 in the auditorium, he also talked about humanity coexisting with nature and not in conflict with it.

“Despite all the progress, poverty and malnutrition have not gone away from the world. On the other hand, a large sum of money is being spent on increasing the speed of missiles and (destructive) capacity of bombs. We have to be alert that we make technology an instrument of progress, not of destruction,” he said.

He said governments should be alert to the challenges from changes in technology so that the use of technology remains constructive. “Technology is a gift whose user manual does not mention ethical values. The misuse of cyberspace for radicalisation is an example of abuse of technology by some people,” Modi said.

Noting that people are living in “interconnected, interlinked and interdependent” world, he said “our problems are indivisible and so are there solutions to a large extent.”

Calling the 21st century as the century of Asia, Modi said that it took thousands of centuries to make progress from the Stone Age to Industrial Revolution but the communications revolution took 200 years whereas the distance to digital revolution has been covered in a few years.

The PM said technology has become a big instrument of “disruptive change” and has empowered the common man.

“Technology and its spread have empowered the common man and this empowerment has got strength from `minimum government, maximum governance,” he said.

He said India’s unique identity programme (Aadhaar) is the largest in the world and has stopped leaks of $8 billion.

Later, Modi met his French counterpart Edouard Philippe and had a “good discussion” on ways to boost bilateral strategic ties ahead of President Emmanuel Macron’s first visit to India next month.

Modi earlier on Sunday met UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and discussed ways to expand bilateral cooperation in trade, defence and people-to-people contacts.

Modi also met business leaders from Gulf Cooperation Council countries and shared his vision of “new India” with them.