7 Reasons Why India Is Going To Lose The Artificial Intelligence Race

From sorting cucumbers to curing cancers, Artificial Intelligence algorithms will not pause at anything. Google CEO recently stated that AI is more profound than electricity and firein his statement “AI is probably the most important thing humanity has ever worked on. I think of it as something more profound than electricity or fire,”

For the past 30 years, technology outsourcing has generated massive employment for India, but now AI and Automation is changing the traditional IT Service Model. Indian outsourcing industry is under serious threat and is going to change sooner than we can think of.

We should not forget what Vineet Nayyar, former CEO of HCL Technologies once said

IT industry in India was built on the back of cheap labour”

Will India be a lead player in this game of AI or will India play catch-on and turn into a follower just to be in the game. No undue prejudice will be done if we say India has already missed the Bus.

1 — Lack of Government Policies/Support

US, China, Japan, Israel and a few of EU countries are heavily investing in AI technologies and developing mammoth plans around the prospect of Artificial Intelligence driven economy.

Based on PwC report the greatest economic gains from AI will be in China (26% boost to GDP in 2030) and North America (14.5% boost), equivalent to a total of $10.7 trillion and accounting for almost 70% of the global economic impact.

India has few dozen startups in the field playing here and there, we will be short-sighted if we rely on these AI startups funded by VCs and carrying no long-term goals

In a decade or two from now, the future of India’s national security and economic progress might depend on such technological innovations. If India wants to leverage the potential of Artificial Intelligence, it is necessary for the government bodies to fixate on new policies for AI.

How open should we be for an AI research? Should we be concerned that there is too much of money flowing into advanced AI research by private sectors that government is not conscious of? How these AI research is value aligned to the nation’s bigger goals? AI policies for India should be inclusive of philosophy, ethics, security, and politics.

2 — Lack of AI Data Sets

Data is the fuel for AI, without data AI is nothing; Quality data set is instrumental in the accuracy and efficiency of any AI based solution. AI algorithms and machine learning systems need unusually large volumes of high-quality data to function efficiently.

The democratization of data is a significant step towards accelerating AI and without open data platforms and data policies how anybody would make a product, tool or platform that does disruption. If we don’t have open data that is machine readable then India’s Artificial Intelligence innovation is stalled forever.

If India has to create open data platform it has to look at various data resources, create guidelines for storing data and then create discoverable data platform — for the public consumption. All AI solutions be it prediction or demand forecasting, they all are based on the quality of data.

There is sufficient talent in India, and more than often innovation comes from the unlikely place; once India is prepared to build open data platform, there will be many new businesses that will become viable by exploiting new knowledge and insights.

Legal, technical and social requirements for an open dataset need to be defined in order to realize any social and business value

3 — AI is More Than Chatbots and Automation

Since 2016 there are dozens of AI startups, most are nothing more than the supplier of chatbots and RPA (robotic process automation); this is not even AI. Soon voice based AI assistants will take over AI chatbots.

Futurist AI based RPA will improve their own performance and make a complex decision trajectory based on quality datasets with little intervention or programming. Future of RPA market belongs to self-learning capabilities and in the lack of quality data sets, we can’t continually improve upon RPA.

4- India’s Paradox: Leadership

We can’t pursue any further what we have been doing since last 30 years — executing technology outsourcing projects from US, Europe, and other geographies because of our large pool of English speaking IT engineering graduates.

If India has to realize the goals of smart cities and Digital India, then there can’t be any better time in the future than now, if we don’t act now the gap between technologically advanced countries and India will expand further and within a few years from now India will turn into a technology laggard in the world where China will gain exponential influence because of technology adoption.

The baby steps in India’s Artificial Intelligence evolution are no more useful. India needs to accelerate the speed of innovation. Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy trashes AI as hype and said

“There is this whole thing about automation and artificial intelligence. That is much more hype than the reality, at least in the software services,”

Leaders of the private companies should come forward and think 10x instead of 2x, they should influence government bodies on the long-term values of AI-based innovation across all vital functions that public sector and government serves.

5 — The Great Decoupling

Exponential technological development brings in its own problems like stagnation of income and disappearance of the middle class — adequate to disrupt the cycle of prosperity. First time in the history, productivity and employment are not related and we are observing The Great Decoupling. Labor’s share of GDP had declined in 42 out of 59 countries, including China, Mexico, and India. We don’t know what the new ride will feel like. While creating open data platform we need to discover and create new markets — enabling employment of re-skilled labor

India has 4 million IT employee generating $150 billion in revenue. World Bank data estimates 69% of today’s jobs in India are threatened by automation.

The abundance of labor and very low (relatively) wages just mean that AI adoption will be slow in India. But this slowness won’t stick around long and we need to move forward on national level deliberate AI policies before we are late in the game. We need to bring in digital labor model while we say good bye to India’s dying cheap labor based IT service model

AI is an ingenious instrument that we need to explore for strengthening ourselves with the challenges that we will face in the near future.

6 — Not Futuristic Enough

Peter Thiel, co-founder of Paypal and Palantir once said

How can you achieve your 10 year plan in the next 6 months?

If you closely observe where we stand in realizing the target of 100 smart cities by 2020 it still appears to be a far-fetched goal. If we want to stay in the list of Top 5, we need to plan “AI for India” from the bottom up, by paying attention to India’s social, political, cultural, ethical and economic situations. This model need not be a Jugaad or copy-paste from some other country.

How you set up the game is more important than how you play it. If we don’t have leaders, evangelist, visionaries and futurist that can’t use Artificial Intelligence to augment our ever-greater capabilities, resources, opportunities, and achievements — then we must blame ourselves for our upcoming failures.

Technology is advancing faster than ever, faster than our need to innovate, swifter than we can adapt. If we want to make of use accelerating the growth of technology for solving some of the biggest problems we have today, then we need to think exponentially. We need more technology evangelist, visionaries, and digital futurists.

7 — Issues with Education

With this exponential growth in a technology where 1) Everything will be connected to the internet 2) Artificial Intelligence will change everything 3) Every company is becoming a technology company; China is already leaping ahead in the AI race on many levels (research, investment, and government policies). India is just waking up to the AI morning. Academics, researchers, government and private investors have to realize the potential of Artificial Intelligence for India’s growth.

Our educational system needs to be updated to acquire and enhance skills required to cope with the changes AI brings along with it. While online education helps Indian students to get access to a world-class learning experience but traditional higher education is simply not feasible due to financial constraints, and infrastructure is still an issue.

We need an education system that instills skills and provide opportunities for students to use these skills as they learn. The system should not impose “first complete school, then try IIT, then try MBA”.

India produces thousands of engineers per year but we still lag in innovation. AI requires a mindset of innovation, research, and experimentation. New education policies, system, and curriculums need to be made future ready and adaptive enough to suit Artificial Intelligence-based future economy.

Risks of Not Advancing in Artificial Intelligence

India’s initiatives like Start Up India ,Make in India and Digital India might benefit India constitute a truly Digital India and it is important to have Artificial Intelligence in the agenda; but I cannot resist drawing my readers’ attention to the irony they will observe upon visiting these websites. Artificial Intelligence Task Force, constituted by Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India has nothing to offer for the public community.

After reading this article I am afraid that you may be left inquiring about what is the author’s argument here. My judgment is that India hasn’t produced big technology players; till now current large IT players were able to create jobs in India for serving customers outside of India which is getting harder and harder with AI technology disruption. If we don’t see any large AI initiative now with huge intellectual and financial investment India will suffer its competitive technology position resulting in the bad impact on the economy — The AI-based technological space will be filled in by Chinese firms.

India should not miss the futuristic wave of opportunities. It should go back to the blackboard and labor hard rather than protecting underperforming legacy IT and business models