Artificial Intelligence poised to fuel the Indian economy

N.Vijayagopalan

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans. It has become an essential part of the technology industry. Research associated with artificial intelligence is highly technical and specialized. The core problems of artificial intelligence include programming computers for certain traits such as knowledge, reasoning, speech recognition, problem solving, perception, learning, planning, ability to manipulate and move objects

 

Artificial intelligence also known as machine intelligence (MI), is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence (NI) displayed by humans and other animals. In computer science AI research is defined as the study of "intelligent agents": any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals. Colloquially, the term "artificial intelligence" is applied when a machine mimics "cognitive" functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as "learning" and "problem solving".

 

A typical AI perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals. An AI's intended goal function can be simple ("1 if the AI wins a game of Go, 0 otherwise") or complex ("Do actions mathematically similar to the actions that got you rewards in the past"). Goals can be explicitly defined or can be induced. If the AI is programmed for "reinforcement learning", goals can be implicitly induced by rewarding some types of behaviour and punishing others.[a] Alternatively, an evolutionary system can induce goals by using a "fitness function" to mutate and preferentially replicate high-scoring AI systems; this is similar to how animals evolved to innately desire certain goals such as finding food, or how dogs can be bred via artificial selection to possess desired traits.[48] Some AI systems, such as nearest-neighbor, instead reason by analogy; these systems are not generally given goals, except to the degree that goals are somehow implicit in their training data.[49] Such systems can still be benchmarked if the non-goal system is framed as a system whose "goal" is to successfully accomplish its narrow classification task.[50]

 

The Union Finance Minister of India made many importance announcements in the Union Budget 2018. But, a very significant and rather unexpected one was regarding the establishment of a national programme to direct efforts in the area of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Now, that’s a welcome initiative!

 

During his budget speech, the Finance Minister ArunJaitley said, "Technologies such as Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and others are the technologies of the future and NITI Aayog will establish a national programme to conduct research and development in these areas.”Running high on the momentum of ‘Digital India’, the government also doubled allocation to this programme to $480 million in 2018-19, deciding to invest heavily in research, training and skill development in technologies such as AI, digital manufacturing, robotics, Quantum communication and Big Data intelligence, 3D printing, Blockchain, Machine Learning and Internet of Things.

 

NitiAayog, the nation’s think-tank and premier policy-making body, has already been emphasising the role that new technologies will play in the development of the economy. In February 2018, highlighting its achievements since the three years of its formation, it mentioned that it has been working on initiatives to put Indian on the global map with regards to AI, and develop a robust ecosystem to promote it in health, education and agricultural sectors.NitiAayog is already in advanced stages of launching a National Data and Analytics Portal to facilitate training and dataset sharing between different organisations for AI-related applications.

 

These initiatives speak about the government’s focus on improving the ease of doing business, as well as making the lives of people simpler. The government seems to have reflected deeply on the findings of the Carnegie India report titled ‘India and the Artificial Intelligence Revolution’. It may be recalled that the report highlighted that (1) India needed to view AI as a critical aspect of its national security strategy, (2) India must foster AI innovations and set up AI-friendly infrastructure to prepare Iits job and skill markets for AI-based future, and (3) It was high time that India had a strong AI policy in place to benefit from AI revolution, with China, the US and South Korea making tremendous advances in AI.

 

According to an Accenture report, AI holds the potential to add $957 billion to the Indian economy, thereby increasing its yearly growth rate of Gross Value Added (GVA) by 1.3 percentage points, and also boosting the nation’s income by 15 percent in 2035. However, AI development in India is still lagging behind many other G20 countries. This report also highlighted the need to have a national AI policy.

 

Perhaps, these are the reasons why AI received exclusive mention in Budget 2018. There are a few areas which stand poised to greet positive outcomes, thanks to the national programme on AI research and development.

 

Startup Firms

 

As per the last Nasscom Startup Report, currently, India has nearly 5,200 tech startups and these startups are changing the face of Indian industry, be it agriculture, e-commerce, financial services, education, automobiles, logistics, health or manufacturing. India is the world’s fastest-growing startup ecosystem and riding high on the wave of technology. The announcement in the Budget will go a long way in providing the necessary AI support required by startups to up their game.

 

Creation of employment opportunities

 

Contrary to the general belief that AI will grab jobs from humans, it would actually create many new jobs. A Gartner study shows AI will create 2.3 million jobs while eliminating 1.8 million by 2020. More and more AI professionals will be required by all economies across the world, including India. Presently, about 800 companies are working on, or are deploying AI, there are 29,000 AI professionals and there are around 4000 job openings in AI in India. Expecting that 70 percent of Indian companies will leverage AI by 2020, it is likely to create more demand for AI professionals. The AI is expected to change the job landscape in the next few years, and so India needs to prepare its workforce with adequate skills. The national programme on AI can address this demand-supply gap effectively.

 

‘Make in India’ programme

 

Government of India’s ‘Make in India’ programme,which is a globally watched initiative and  government’s flagship programme, has been receiving significal fiscal impetus ever since it was launched. AI-assisted technology offers great promises for strengthening the production capabilities under this programme. A PwC report in association with ASSOCHAM India states that “AI-augmented manufacturing operations can employ more reliable demand forecasting, a flexible and responsive supply chain, quicker changes in operations, and more accurate scheduling and inventory optimisation. Other benefits involve the creation of smarter, quicker and environmentally sound processes.” The enhanced R&D efforts could help develop innovative processes to change the face of the Indian manufacturing sector and train low-skilled labour for advanced and strategic tasks.

 

Quality of life

 

AI is expected to improve the quality of life of people across a multitude of realms from healthcare to agriculture,. Many companies have already launched a few such products. For instance, Tata Rallis uses AI-powered drones to administer pesticides by harnessing data on crop health and soil conditions to increase output. A startup named NetraDyne is using AI to improve road and driver safety. Another startup called Zenatix provides IoT-based energy monitoring and control products for energy efficiency and savings. IBM Watson has partnered with the Indian government to develop AI models that could create smart cities. India’s Smart City Programme aims to create more than 100 smart cities by 2020 which calls for fast implementation and AI could support it aptly regarding technology.

 

AI is a harbinger of good times for India. It heralds growth for the Indian economy. It offers great promises for making our way of living intelligent and more comfortable. AI helps us to focus on creativity and innovations. AI is propelling India towards a technology-driven path. The announcement on AI in Budget 2018 is a major step ahead in that direction.

 

(Courtesy: Your Story)

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