Artificial intelligence is now the real thing

Artificial intelligence is now the real thing

Artificial intelligence is now the real thing

In the not too distant future the smartphone of a farmer in India will not only track the weather forecasts but perhaps advise him on the next best action to take if the weather turns inclement. It might even go a step ahead and help him make a decision on locking up the best future price for his produce. A smart fishing app will learn from the past performance of fishing trips on the high seas to guide Indian fishermen on improving their catch while an intelligent learning app will coach Indian students to cope better for competitive examinations. A clever tax collection app will help the government detect sophisticated methods of tax evasion while a subsidy app will better target benefits to those who need them the most, helping plug leakages. All of these have a chance of becoming a reality in the next decade, given the recent advances in artificial intelligence if only we in India wake up and get our act right.

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From SIRI in iPhones and iPADs to Cortana in your Microsoft Windows 10 devices, artificial intelligence has made inroads into our everyday lives in a subtle but significant manner. Every time the intelligence keyboard in your smartphone makes a clever prediction on what you will type next it is artificial intelligence at work, learning from your past sentences and improving its predictive abilities along the way. The recent brouhaha in India over app-based taxi aggregators highlights the extent to which the policy regime in India lags advances in technology.

Policymakers in India cannot afford to make the same mistakes with artificial intelligence, given the breadth and depth of its impact on the economy in general and on national security in particular. Outlining the challenges and opportunities of an artificial intelligence-led future, the recent paper by Carnegie India titled “India and Artificial Intelligence Revolution” delves at length into the policy roadmap for India to prepare itself for impending change. Specifically, the paper outlines the impact of artificial intelligence-led automation in a range of sectors, leading to challenges in job creation. It calls for a radical rethink of the new education policy to prepare our youth with skills of the future to survive and thrive in an artificial intelligence-led economy.

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