When I was a kid, there were a few standard jobs you could choose from: become a doctor, a lawyer, a banker, an engineer, maybe a computer programmer or a journalist.

I loved to read science fiction novels about robots and going to space. I would watch Star Trek, read Dune, and be amazed at the imagination of their creators.

Who could believe such magic? How did they think of these things? I wanted to live in these imaginary worlds.

Slowly things started to change. Everything I thought would take another fifty years to be invented started becoming a reality.

Today, 3D Printing is being used to build entire office buildings in China. Plant-based products are being made that taste exactly like meat, are more nutritious and can even feed the entire planet.

There is an automated store in Seattle (USA) without any employees that can log you into Amazon when you walk in, see what you put in your basket, and check you out via Amazon when you walk out!

While all these big things are happening around the world, Pakistan is also on its way to make some huge technological advancements.

Our lifestyles have evolved over the past few decades.

For example, people can now mark their attendance with biometric machines through their fingerprints and picture IDs in offices and schools. Drones are taking over, not only in wars, but in our daily lives as well. Photographers and journalists are using them to cover events and ceremonies. The Traffic Department is using drones to assess the situation of traffic at far-off locations without even going there.

Drone

The National Highway Authority (NHA) is devising a plan for commuters to pay their toll tax on roads through mobile and credit cards instead of using the manual system.

Currently, the NHA has installed E-tag facilities on motorways M-1, M-3 and M-4 while the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) has installed an M-tag system on motorway M-2 (Islamabad-Lahore). This will help in reducing rush lines at toll plazas and save time as well.

NADRA has introduced computerised National Identity Cards, which contain chips. They are machine-readable and carry biometric information.

Careem and Uber have launched their services in Pakistan. You can just sit at home, book your ride through your cell phone and find it outside your door in moments instead of going out, searching for a cab and negotiating fares.

Technology is also benefitting the energy sector in Pakistan. Solar energy is one of the safest and most economical ways of generating electricity and Pakistan launched its biggest solar energy power station in 2015.

Airports in Pakistan are soon going to have an electronic check-in system for passengers. You will not have to wait in long queues for your turn to get boarding passes. Go to the machine and print your boarding pass yourself.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has a lot of potential as well. We now live in an App-driven era where people can control their home appliances using their phones wherever they may be. A Metro Bus Service with Wi-Fi availability has been launched in Lahore and Islamabad and a similar one is now being planned in Karachi and Multan too.

None of this existed ten years ago.

The world is witnessing an increasing rate of technological change. Ideas from multiple industries are coming together and evolving to create newer potential and solve bigger problems every single day.

Technology used to take centuries to evolve, largely, because the sharing of ideas was so cumbersome. Now technology is changing every day.

We are living in what would have been described decades ago as a science fiction world. There is now an unprecedented opportunity to cure diseases, end poverty and famine, and create a better world for all.

We cannot predict the future – but that does not matter. We are all plunging head first into the future.

Today, we are all characters in my favourite science fiction novel.

 

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Education in Pakistan