IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 13th May 2019
TOPIC: General studies 1 and 3
- Urbanisation and its impacts
- Policy interventions and issues arising out of their design and implementation
- Environment conservation; Community-led conservation
Protecting forest fringes
- India is among the fastest urbanising major countries and forest-rich nations of the world.
- The current trend of fast-paced, spatial urban expansion will pose a severe sustainability challenge in coming years, as the proximity between forests and the cities is increasing.
- Across India, many more critical wildlife habitats and biodiversity areas are going to face a direct impact from cities in the near term.
Do you know?
- In major cities such as Gurugram, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Bengaluru, forests have already faced the brunt of encroachments, roads and highways, local extinction of wildlife, contamination of water bodies, and disturbances originating from the urban neighbourhoods.
- Dense neighbourhoods have expanded up to the fringe of the forest – for example, Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai, Bannerghatta in Bengaluru, and the Guindy National Park in Chennai.
How to address these challenges?
- Effective implementation of urban programmes such as ‘Smart Cities’.
- The policy makers should include some of the below provisions to tackle such challenges in the new draft Forest Policy, 2018.
- City-forest cooperation and notifying eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) around protected areas.
- Inter-departmental collaboration of the forest departments, urban bodies and civil society.
- Urban masterplans must recognise land use at forest fringes, according to ESZ guidelines.
- Cities should secure wildlife corridors and ‘green belts’ that connect urban forests with a wider natural landscape.
- Most importantly, urban residents need to create social fences by strongly advocating for forests in their cities.
Urban planners and city administrators have ignored the fact that forests are natural shock-absorbers that provide green relief to our grey cities, shield them from the effects of climate change, and aid in urban issues such as air pollution, scarcity of drinking water, flood control and ‘heat islands’.
Prioritising forest-city proximity will put the onus on cities to incorporate nature in their design.
Integrating forests with urban planning and governance provides an opportunity to shape cities that not only cater to citizens, but also have the citizens actively involved in shaping the city’s future.
Connecting the dots:
- Many critical wildlife habitats and biodiversity areas are facing direct impact from cities and fast-paced, spatial urban expansion. Suggest and discuss what measures are necessary to address such sustainability challenges.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
TOPIC: General studies 3
- Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Artificial Intelligence and its disastrous consequences
Artificial Intelligence (AI) or AI-powered robots are going to take over our lives one day. They are going to run our factories, diagnose our illnesses, drive our cars, provide enjoyable company and even sex for the lonely, and replace large numbers of us in our jobs.
But if these AI gigs mess up, whom can we sue and ask for damages?
Case study 1: Stock investment AI program
- Hong Kong tycoon Samathur Li Kin-kan is suing the man who sold him on a stock investment AI program that lost Li a lot of money.
- A supercomputer, K1, would search real-time news and social media to gauge investor sentiment and predict US stock futures, then instruct a broker to execute trades.
- Li is now suing Tyndaris Company for allegedly exaggerating what the supercomputer could do. However, Tyndaris denies the charges.
- Several global fund management companies have started using AI in the last few years.
- However, there can also be totally out-of-the-blue incidents. Markets are often irrational, and move on the basis of rumours or “market sentiment”.
- AI programs make their decisions by studying history, past patterns and expect these to continue. If there are no obvious similar events in their databases, they would be stumped.
Case study 2: AI in healthcare
- In 2018, a major healthcare AI vendor’s internal documents were leaked. It revealed that the computer’s algorithms had produced erroneous and unsafe cancer treatment recommendations in multiple cases.
- Increasingly, doctors are relying on sophisticated algorithms to make healthcare recommendations—a practice dubbed “black box medicine.”
- But even the most advanced artificial intelligence (AI) can get it wrong. Machine-learning algorithms are designed by humans, after all, and trained on data sets that have been collected and selected by humans, who are capable of bias and mistakes.
- In healthcare, those mistakes can be costly—and even fatal.
AI is set to make deep inroads to every field. AI is now an independent decision-making entity, much like a person whose parents have only paid for a basic education and lifetime unlimited internet access.
It has a ton of legal implications. Even regulation raises a whole set of serious issues. How can governments regulate and ensure the quality of medical AI? For sure, human laws are currently ill-equipped to handle.
Connecting the dots:
- “With great power comes great responsibility. Technology is in itself just a tool; what matters is how we use it.” Discuss in the context of AI.
- Can Artificial Intelligence become a potential threat to economy? Examine.
- What do you mean by Artificial Intelligence? Discuss its potential benefits and associated risks. Also highlight the challenges in adoption of AI in Indian context.
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