NTU just launched a new institute to study how technology can benefit humanity

(From left) Professor Vanessa Evers, professor of computer science at the University of Twente’s Human Media Interaction group in the Netherlands, Professor Subra Suresh, president of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Peter Ho, chair of the NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity (NISTH) international advisory board, officiated the launch of NTU’s new institute.
Facebook / Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

As technology creeps into everyday lives, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) launched a new institute on Monday (March 11) to study just that.

NTU created the Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity (NISTH), which is described as a “campus-wide entity devoted to research and education, as well as providing training and generating public awareness on the impact of technology on society”.

NTU’s website said NISTH will bring together academia, NGOs, the government and the industry, to find ways to enhance the use of technology to “create a better future for humanity”.

The institute will first focus on three main themes – responsible innovation, governance and leadership in the age of the fourth industrial revolution, and emerging urban Asia.

These themes cut across different sectors of technology such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, machine learning, mobility, autonomy, personalised machine, internet of things and robotics.

They also cover various broad subject areas such as science, technology, business, medicine, the humanities, arts and social sciences.

NTU president Subra Suresh said that the rapid pace at which technology is progressing will have both its upsides and downsides.

He said: “While many of these changes will have positive outcomes for individual citizens, organisations, governments, and society, there are also potential concerns, challenges and questions surrounding ethical dilemmas, inequality, work force retraining, policies, regulations, sustainability, and the impact of technology on the lives and livelihoods of people.”

He also said during his speech at the launch that apart from jobs being replaced, there is a risk of societal divisions between those who can master technologies and those who cannot.

“A human-centric and ethical approach to science and technology is therefore necessary,” he said, adding that it is important to strive to create a future in which “technology augments rather than replaces humans”.

This will require jobs to be redesigned and skills to be instilled from a young age, the professor added.

NISTH will be headed by Professor Vanessa Evers, renowned for her work in the field of socially intelligent computing and human-computer interaction.

Currently, she is a professor of computer science at the University of Twente’s Human Media Interaction group in the Netherlands, and will join NTU on Aug 1.

Read also: