Context: Aiming to foster growth for India’s nascent artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) ecosystem, NITI Aayog and Google have signed a Statement of Intent (SoI).
Under the program, Google and NITI Aayog will work on the following initiatives:
- Organise trainings for relevant government functionaries to introduce them to open source AI tools with the goal of enabling more effective governance.
- Awarding grants and scholarships to researchers, scholars and university faculty conducting cutting edge research in the field of AI/ML in India.
- Organising AI/ML study jams for students and developers based on Google’s Machine Learning Crash Course (MLCC) on the fundamentals of machine learning.
- Incubating Indian AI/ML startups in a program where they will be mentored by Google to better leverage AI in their respective business models.
- Organise a Hackathon focused on using AI/ML and open data sets to solve key challenges within agriculture, education, healthcare, etc. in India.
The NITI Aayog has been entrusted to setup a national programme to conduct research and development in frontier technologies such as AI. In furtherance of this mandate, NITI Aayog has been developing India’s national strategy on AI along with the National Data and Analytics Portal to enable the wide deployment and use of AI.
What is artificial intelligence (AI)?
Artificial Intelligence comes from computer systems that have been programmed to — or have learnt to — do tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence. Many apps and software are already making mundane work easier by doing a certain part of it for us, based on acquired intelligence.
Automation threatens 69% of the jobs in India, while it’s 77% in China, according to a World Bank research. The transition is expected to happen in a decade, according to experts. Therefore, if automation is not planned well and addressed holistically, it is a disaster in the making.
While there is a risk to jobs due to these trends, the good news is that a huge number of new jobs are getting created as well in areas like cybersecurity, cloud, big data, machine learning and AI. The new job roles that will dominate the IT workforce are within digital domains such as big data, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and cybersecurity. It is clearly a time of career pivot for IT professionals to make sure they are where the growth is.
Policy on AI:
The Union ministry of electronics and information technology, in October 2017, set up an internal committee to advise the government on a policy on artificial intelligence (AI). The expert committee will advise the IT ministry on the most apt technologies for India. The government’s main focus is to reduce cyber attacks with AI.
Need for a policy on AI:
The artificial intelligence market is estimated to touch $153 billion in 2020 and expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 45.4% from 2016 to 2022. However, AI is widely seen as a major challenge in generation of employment as many companies are likely to depend more on it to cut down on human resources.
Globally too, there is a growing interest in AI. In 2016, the White House initiated work on Preparing for the future of artificial intelligence; in the UK, the House of Commons committee on S&T looked at robotics and artificial intelligence while in 2017, the State Council of China started work on the next generation artificial intelligence development plan.
Seven- point strategy:
The government has recently drawn up a seven-point strategy that would form the framework for India’s strategic plan to use AI.
The strategy includes developing methods for human machine interactions; ensuring safety and security of AI systems; creating a competent workforce in line with AI and R&D needs, understanding and addressing the ethical, legal and societal implications of AI, measuring and evaluating AI technologies through standards and benchmarks, among others.
AI is a complex subject; it would be simplistic to look at it as all bad or all good. But robots and AI taking away middle-class, manufacturing jobs in the not-so-distant future is a very real prospect that will have to be addressed by governments sooner than they probably think.