ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN INDIA
GS Paper 3: Awareness in the fields of IT, space, computers, robotics, computers, biotechnology and issues related to intellectual property rights.
The success of AI in enterprises has the potential to usher in a new era of abundant, highly personalised products and services, unbiased and rational decisions, and lower costs of delivery and development. At the same time, if not implemented in the right way, AI could also result in the widening of income disparity between skilled and unskilled workers. Consumers, businesses, governments and international bodies (like the UN or the World Economic Forum)—all have to consciously make policy decisions to help with the success of AI and passing on its benefits to all.
Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the ability of a computer or a computer-enabled robotic system to process information and produce outcomes in a manner similar to the thought process of humans in learning, decision making and solving problems. By extension, the goal of AI systems is to tackle complex problems in ways similar to human logic and reasoning.
AI is an over-arching concept that encompasses multiple (often overlapping) disciplines. These draw upon knowledge and techniques from mathematics, statistics, computer science and domain-specific expertise to create models, software programs and tools. These software programs and tools can undertake complex tasks with outcomes that are comparable, if not better, to traditional manual approaches.
Scope of AI
AI initiatives underway in India
Indian start-ups are working across a plethora of AI problems— identifying patterns in objects, people, style and preferences to advice on retail shopping; building conversational services and using them over social media apps and for online shopping; developing better diagnostic services; bringing in cognition in robotic process automation; helping in cross-channel discovery of preferences and working in multiple languages.
Public policy in India on the application of AI has thus far lagged when compared to AI’s subtle usage by start-ups who have so seamlessly blended AI into the services provided to customers. If we look at the applications that we use/have used at some point of time (e-commerce platforms, chat services, social media services and so on), they have all been employing AI in some form and at some level of maturity or the other. Though India is making rapid progress in terms of technology, companies and researchers are yet to utilise the full potential of AI.
Take for instance the Clean India Initiative directed towards the construction of toilets in rural India. Public servants are tasked with uploading images of these toilet constructions to a central server for sampling and assessment. Image processing AI can be used to flag photographs that do not resemble completely built toilets.
AI can also be consumed in traditional industries like agriculture. The Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture runs the Kisan Call Centers across the country to respond to issues raised by farmers instantly and in their local language. An AI system will help assist the call centre by linking various available information. For example, it could pick up soil reports from government agencies and link them to the environmental conditions prevalent over the years using data from a remote sensing satellite. It could then provide advice on the optimal crop that can be sown in that land pocket. This information could also be used to determine the crop’s susceptibility to pests.
While there is a substantive body of literature on recent advances in AI and the resulting implications for jobs, skills, and society at large, few analyses have examined the specific impact of AI on India’s emerging economy. The Indian government is aggressively trying to increase human capital on a national scale, with a specific emphasis on its younger population through the Skill India initiative, while seeking to attract global manufacturing to India via its Make in India program. The other part of this modernizing triad is the Digital India initiative: a determined push to expand digital access nationwide.
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