View from India: AI set to become all-pervasive

The Government of India (GoI) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has initiated a task force on artificial intelligence (AI) for India’s Economic Transformation.

As per the 2018 Task Force Report, AI can impact 10 domains in the Indian scenario. Right from manufacturing, fintech, healthcare, agriculture/food processing and education to retail/customer engagement, aid for differently abled/accessibility, environment and national security and public utility services.

India is gearing up to meet the new demands of Industry 4.0, the Fourth Industrial Revolution. AI is the foundation technology and the country can leapfrog into the future, as AI combines with Internet of Things (IoT) robotics and augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

Described to be the alpha of new technology trends, AI is all pervasive. “The adoption of AI in the Indian enterprise sector is estimated to be around 68 per cent by 2019. With this, it is expected to create an addition of 2.3 million jobs by enhancing efficiencies and giving a competitive edge to the vertical,” said Kamal Bali, past chairman, CII Karnataka Council and managing director, Volvo India Limited, speaking at the CII IQ Anniversary and day seminar on Artificial Intelligence Machine Intelligence in the Real World. 

AI is the next new electricity and is predicted to be anything and everything that we consume. “AI is expected to transform businesses, yet a certain amount of apprehension has set in. There’s an inherent fear that AI will take away jobs. At the surface level, this logic may appear to be true, but a deeper understanding points to the fact that this is an opportunity where we can reskill our workforce to bridge the technology gap,” explained Shashi Bhushan, CTO business and technology services, Tata Consultancy Services.

Data is the basis of AI, which means it can open out revenue channels in areas related to data sharing as well as data protection. Let’s not forget, AI will also unleash a suite of new jobs related to cognitive and predictive tasks. “Given its predictive capabilities, the information derived from AI helps detect frauds and filter spam mails. At the other end, simple tasks like vegetable sorting can be simplified use AI algorithms,” highlighted Bhushan.  

Broadly speaking, AI is constituted by natural language processing, deep learning and machine learning. Using AI technologies, computers will translate images into vision. Similarly, sound is synthesised to take the form of an audio wave. The audio-vision combination translates into various applications of AI.

AI is making its way into retail and some industrial applications like product assembly. For instance, in the case of the retail sector, deep learning can offer an insight into customer behavior. AI along with chat bots facilitates customer interaction through automated text conversations and natural language processing. “In healthcare services, AI-based data driven information can be used for early detection of many health disorders and help save lives. 3D printing and the creation of prototypes can be used in robotics healthcare,” Bali suggests. Looking to the future, it can also lead to the situation where medicines can be personalised.

Apart from the economic opportunities it has unlocked, it has put across the message that IT professionals, electronics engineers, solution architects, healthcare and retail professionals and designers who are looking to expand their horizons should get hands-on exposure to the latest AI technologies. They will no longer work in silos, but through hybrid teams and collaborative robots. To that extent, digital data banks and exchanges need to be set up to store and connect multidisciplinary industries for AI data exchange.

As of now, AI is in a nascent stage in India, but the GoI has indicated its keenness to invest in research in new areas like AI and robotics in the 2018 Union Budget.

CII is the short form for Confederation of Indian Industry, which is a non-government, not-for-profit, industry-led and industry-managed organization that plays a proactive role in India's development process. CII IQ or the CII Institute of Quality is the leading authority in Quality Enhancement among organisations and industries.

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