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Sansad TV: Perspective – AI: The Road Ahead

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Introduction:

Last week, India, along with 27 other countries and the European Union, reached an agreement at Bletchley Park in the United Kingdom, to establish a shared understanding of the opportunities and risks posed by artificial intelligence or AI. Signed on the first day of the AI Safety Summit, hosted by the UK, the Bletchley Declaration marks the first international declaration to deal with this fast-emerging technology. Bletchley Park is, in fact, regarded as one of the birthplaces of computer science, and was a renowned codebreaking hub during World War II.The declaration recognises the need for global action to tackle the possible risks of AI, while encouraging a more in-depth exploration of its full potential. Artificial Intelligence is poised to transform nearly every possible aspect of our lives.It presents enormous global opportunities, and can greatly enhance human wellbeing, peace and prosperity. These promises, however, also come with significant risks, many of which transcend national boundaries.

Significant advances and applications of AI:

  • It has the potential to overcome the physical limitations of capital and labour and open up new sources of value and growth.
    • It has the potential to drive growth by enabling
    • Intelligent automationability to automate complex physical world tasks.
    • Innovation diffusionpropelling innovations through the economy.
  • Heavy Industries & Space: Through AI an entire manufacturing process can be made totally automated, controlled & maintained by computer system.
    • Example: car manufacturing machine tool production, computer chip production. Etc.
    • They carry out dangerous tasks like handling hazardous radioactive materials.
  • Finance: Banks use intelligent software application to screen & analyse financial data.
    • Software that can predict trends in stock market have been created which have been known to beat humans in predictive power.
  • Aviation: Air lines use expert system in planes to monitor atmospheric condition & system status.
  • Role in social development and inclusive growth: Access to quality health facilities, addressing location barriers, providing real-time advisory to farmers and help in increasing productivity, building smart and efficient cities etc.
  • Examples of AI use in India: A Statement of Intent has been signed between NITI Aayog and IBM to develop Precision Agriculture using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Aspirational Districts.
    • National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) launched Pai which is an AI based chatbot, to create awareness around NPCI’s products like FASTag, RuPay, UPI, AePS on a real time basis.

Lack of R&D on AI in India:

  • Both the government and companies are largely focused on AI applications, not research and development (R&D).
  • And even in applications, much of the work is at the mid and lower ends of the spectrum.
  • India is not in the top 10 nations when it comes to AI research.
  • According to experts, currently, the race is really between the US, China and the EU, with the US in a slender lead. India has not even entered the race yet.
  • We are in danger of being on the wrong side of the techno-colonialism, just as we did in the last three general purpose technology (GPT) revolutions that divided the countries around the world into the haves and the have-nots.
  • Techno-colonialism describes the situation where the country or countries that control a technology exploit other, poorer countries that depend on access to that technology.
  • In the US, the close collaboration between academia and corporations has ensured enough money for research which would pay off decades into the future.
  • The US government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency also got into AI research early.
  • China started much later but has invested big money to play catch-up.
  • In India, neither the government nor the industry has focused much on research compared to US and China.
  • In India we need to formulate a long-term plan just as we do for other infrastructure plans.
  • It will mean squeezing expenditure elsewhere to find money for R&D and also giving incentives to attract research talent and getting the biggest corporations involved.
  • For this the government must take a long-term view.
  • Unless we start now, we will forever remain a dependent rather than a leader in the technology stakes.

Way Forward:

  • It remains our collective responsibility to ensure trust in how AI is used. Algorithm transparency is key to establishing this trust.
  • We must protect the world against weaponisation of AI by non-state actors.
  • Riding on data and AI, India can achieve the bold vision of becoming a US$5 trillion economy by 2025.
  • To achieve this, AI needs to be extensively utilized in all sectorsranging from agriculture, MSMEs, financial services, healthcare to energy and logistics to create a vibrant AI economy.