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View from India: Monetise data to enhance AI adoption

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The mainstream acceptance of artificial intelligence (AI) could help unlock societal benefits in India.

Seen from the Indian perspective, AI needs to be inclusive in nature. This is essential as India has a population of 1.3 billion and needs to use AI for mass scale services. For instance, tons of data comes out of agriculture and transportation. AI can be used for optimising results from the data and machine learning will facilitate the process.

Another India-specific demographic is its young population. India has the youngest population in the world. “Youngsters are hooked on to smart devices that generate realms of data. The data is raw and needs to be analysed to derive insights. India needs to deal with the onslaught of big data and create value out of it,” said Professor K. Vijay Raghavan, principal scientific adviser to the Government of India.

AI is being implemented in several enterprises. Many AI-based startups have attracted venture capitalists, yet we can do a lot more than that. “India needs to unleash the value of AI. Data and AI can unlock $500bn value for the economy. It is critical that we put all the key building blocks in place for building the economy,” said Debjani Ghosh, President, NASSCOM. 

The challenge and opportunity lie in the proper usage of AI. An ecosystem and infrastructure need to be in place to take AI forward and use it for inclusive growth. There’s a perceived need for AI solutions for machines to take appropriate commands. This has to do with the fact that we are becoming more and more digitised. Many of our decisions will be made by machines. The concern is whether the data fed into machines is reliable enough for machines to think rationally and make intelligent decisions. “This is important because both the scale and the amount of data coming out of digital services are humongous. This data is not information, but a jumble of facts in formats as diverse as videos, Excel sheets and photographs,” added Professor Vijay Raghavan.

Data is often called the new oil and its benefits must be protected and shared for monetisation. However, data can be misused if shared indiscriminately. As of now, aggregate data is error free. Potentially what comes out of it depends on what goes into it. Tools are required for curating the data and to glean information for application-based requirements. This can happen when the AI becomes self aware; the stage after AI learns and understands the data. “The ability to observe, measure, predict, explain, optimise and adapt are the building blocks that make AI self-aware,” explained Dr Shailesh Kumar, chief data scientist, COE AI/ML, Reliance Jio.

To break it down, AI should be equipped to observe everything, measure it with defined metrics and predict outcomes. As part of the building blocks, it should also be able to explain the predictions, optimise it for best outcomes and adapt it so that it generates the desired results.

“As the AI journey continues, aspects such as recognition which happens through speech and language come to force. The machine needs to be humanised for speech and language communication. Then the machine needs to be personalised, depending on one’s requirement,” pointed out Dr Kumar.

All this falls into place when a collective ecosystem is created for AI. Here, siloed operations will give way to connectedness. For instance, the individual’s consistent activities on YouTube should give an idea of his or her preferences. Thus the YouTube activity should be able to connect to events or services in the real world. A collective of silos will offer a perspective of what the individual does or wants.

The pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital transactions in India. As we proceed, it will result in a data deluge. Companies that plan to monetise the data will enhance the adoption of AI.

“AI can probably solve many problems. Responsible AI is in research curve. Opportunities for India lie in scale and diversity. We will have to invest in skill development to address global requirements for AI,” said P.R. Krishnan, executive vice president, Enterprise Intelligence Automation & Artificial Intelligence (EIA & AI), TCS. 

AI on its own is not useful. It gains traction only if it co-exists with machine learning, 5G and cloud. “India as geography needs to put infrastructure in place by developing AI innovation centres and encouraging AI hubs,” said Krishnan.

These insights were discussed at the Xperience AI Virtual Summit, conducted by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) in partnership with the Telangana Government. 'AI – Augmenting India’s revival, potential and growth' is this year’s theme.

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