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GIST OF RAJYA SABHA TV (RSTV): Humans & Artificial Intelligence

Published: 1st Nov, 2019


Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged business leaders and technocrats to build a bridge between the artificial intelligence and human intentions. In fact artificial intelligence has penetrated several aspects of our life in the past few years. The government on its part has also been vocal about its intention to mainstream AI applications and several ministries along with NITI Aayog have come up various recommendations to enhance the use of AI.

Edited excerpts from the debate:

Question: What is artificial intelligence and what is the Niti Aayog’s National strategy for artificial intelligence?

  • AI is the science of building computers that can solve problems the way humans do. With intelligent machines enabling high­level cognitive processes like thinking, perceiving, learning, problem solving and decision making, coupled with advances in data collection and aggregation, analytics and computer processing power, AI presents opportunities to complement and supplement human intelligence and enrich the way people live and work.

Niti Aayog’s National strategy for artificial intelligence:

NITI Aayog has adopted a three-pronged approach to boost India’s AI network:

  • Undertaking exploratory proof-of-concept AI projects in various areas.
  • Crafting a national strategy for building a vibrant AI ecosystem in India.
  • Collaborating with various experts and stakeholders.
    • NITI Aayog has partnered with several leading AI technology players to implement AI projects in critical areas such as agriculture and health.
    • NITI Aayog had released a discussion paper on National Strategy on Artificial in June 2018.
    • This Strategy is termed #AIForAll as it is focused on leveraging AI for inclusive growth.
    • Role of the Government has been clearly delineated to develop the research ecosystem, promote adoption and address skilling challenges. The strategy also flags important issues like ethics, bias and privacy issues relating to AI and envisions Government promoting research in technology to address these concerns. The focus is on sectors like agriculture, health and education where public investment and lead would be necessary.

Question: What are the applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

  • Self-driving Cars: Advances in artificial intelligence have brought us very close to making the decades-long dream of autonomous driving a reality. AI algorithms are one of the main components that enable self-driving cars to make sense of their surroundings, taking in feeds from cameras installed around the vehicle and detecting objects such as roads, traffic signs, other cars, and people.
  • Digital assistants and smart speakers: Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant use artificial intelligence to transform spoken words to text and map the text to specific commands. AI helps digital assistants make sense of different nuances in spoken language and synthesize human-like voices.
  • Facial recognition: Facial recognition is one of the most popular applications of artificial intelligence. It has many uses, including unlocking your phone, paying with your face, and detecting intruders in your home. But the increasing availability of facial-recognition technology has also given rise to concerns regarding privacy, security, and civil liberties.
  • Medicine: From detecting skin cancer and analyzing X-rays and MRI scans to providing personalized health tips and managing entire healthcare systems, artificial intelligence is becoming a key enabler in healthcare and medicine. AI won't replace your doctor, but it could help to bring about better health services, especially in underprivileged areas, where AI-powered health assistants can take some of the load off the shoulders of the few general practitioners who have to serve large populations.
  • Agriculture Sector: AI can be used to predict advisories for sowing, pest control, input control can help in ensuring increased income and providing stability for the agricultural community. Image classification tools combined with remote and local sensed data can bring a revolutionary change in utilisation and efficiency of farm machinery, in areas of weed removal, early disease identification, produce harvesting and grading.
  • Education Sector: AI can make some of the educational processes automated such as grading, rewarding marks etc. therefore giving educators more time. Further, it can assess students and adapt to their needs, helping them work at their own pace. AI may change where and how students learn, perhaps even replacing some teachers
  • Intelligent Robots: Robots can perform the tasks given by a human because of sensors to detect physical data from the real world such as light, heat, temperature, movement, sound, bump, and pressure. Moreover, they have efficient processors, multiple sensors and huge memory, to exhibit intelligence. Further, they are capable of learning from their errors and therefore can adapt to the new environment.
  • Cyber Security: In the 20th conference on e-governance in India it was discussed that AI can provide more teeth to cyber security and must be explored.

Question: What are the Challenges that India’s Artificial Intelligence Development is facing and how to improve AI in India?

The challenges are concentrated across common themes of:

  • Lack of enabling data ecosystems.
  • Low intensity of AI research.
  • Inadequate availability of AI expertise, manpower and skilling opportunities.
  • High resource cost and low awareness for adopting AI in business processes.
  • Unclear privacy, security and ethical regulations.
  • Unattractive Intellectual Property regime to incentivise research and adoption of AI
  • Lack of collaborative / interdisciplinary approach: research is mostly focused in silos in academic institutions.
  • Lack of scale for experimental validation: due to various practical and financial reasons, university research is largely restricted to theoretical or laboratory scale.
  • Lack of facilities to support large scale experimental test beds.
  • Lack of connect with stakeholders and practitioners to convert outputs to outcomes.
  • Lack of large scale mission mode project management capabilities.

These challenges, while by no means exhaustive, if addressed in an expeditious manner through concerted collaborative efforts by relevant stakeholders, with government playing a leading role, could lead to fundamental building blocks that form the core to India’s march towards leadership in AI.

Recommendations for Improving AI:

  • Re-skilling of the current workforce will require integration with relevant existing skilling initiatives, building of new platforms that can enable improved learning, and novel methods of allowing large scale employment generation through promotion of AI.
  • The increasing demand for AI or data related job positions has not gone unnoticed by the Indian workforce, with a large percentage of them opting for training institutions to bridge their knowledge gaps. In technology hubs such as Bengaluru, this has led to many traditional IT training institutions establishing courses in new age technologies. Thus Recognition and standardisation of informal training institutions is must.
  • The education sector needs to be re-aligned in order to effectively harness the potential of AI in a sustainable manner. In primary and secondary schools, there is a need for transition to skill based education in subjects relevant to AI.
  • In higher education institutions there is need for increased collaboration between industry and academia through creation of channels of communication between faculty and industry to promote exchange of ideas and expertise.
  • AI is a highly collaborative domain, and any framework aimed at promoting AI needs to be aligned accordingly. A multi-pronged approach, involving various stakeholders and promoting a collaborative approach is required for promoting development of AI tools as well as adoption of AI in different fields of activity.
  • In order for India to ride the AI innovation wave, a robust intellectual property framework is required. Despite a number of government initiatives in strengthening the IP regime, challenges remain, especially in respect of applying stringent and narrowly focused patent laws to AI applications – given the unique nature of AI solution development. The importance of data to development of useful models is one such example. To tackle these issues, establishment of IP facilitation centers to help bridge the gap between practitioners and AI developers, and adequate training of IP granting authorities, judiciary and tribunals is suggested.
  • Achieving the goal of #AIforAll requires long term and engaged institutional collaboration between all the stakeholders including the citizens. However, while playing the primary role in ensuring that this collaborative strategy succeeds, the government needs to be mindful of not crowding out the private sector. Role of the government thus needs to be one of a facilitator, an active promoter and wherever required, of an owner.

Conclusion: The intervention of Artificial Intelligence is meant to augment the human capabilities. India has begun slow and trying to learn the usability of AI in social development. The government is also trying to create an ecosystem in terms of institutions as well as opportunities for domestic players. But the real success of AI in India remains on how India utilizes AI for the benefit of society.

What is artificial intelligence? Discuss the Challenges that India’s Artificial Intelligence Development is facing and also suggest some measures to improve AI in India?

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