Beyond Moore's Law: Human-Computer Symbiosis is Transforming Leadership Across Industries
The discussions about the new era of technology have been more lively than ever. The advancement of computing prowess is rapidly changing how we live and work. However, with these advances, automation and artificial intelligence are conquering the center stage. The implications of this transformation have also been a source of much debate, majorly around the future of work and its effects on the global economy. We recently engaged in an interesting conversation with Vishal Dhupar, Managing Director—South Asia, NVIDIA, wherein he discussed the future of Human-Machine relationships, what technology advancements mean for the business realm and value creation, and leadership amidst all the technology rush. A technology wizard, Vishal possesses more than three decades of IT experience and has to his credit the success of DCM, Digital Equipment, SGI, Autodesk, Sun Microsystems, Symantec, and now Nvidia in India.
In conversation with Vishal Dhupar, Managing Director—South Asia, NVIDIA
The past two decades have been tremendous in the evolution of computer-human symbiosis. How do you perceive this evolution, and where are we really at?
The discussions about the symbiosis between the computer and the human are decades old. One of the most profound impacts we had, specifically when I started my professional journey, was the graphical user interface (GUI), which was mostly about writing several lines of code that could help us interact with the computer. Today, we have come a long way. With AI coming into its new renaissance, we can now converse with the computer in our natural language. Even if the grammar is not at its best, we can have a meaningful conversation with the computer. The general-purpose architecture that we use today originated 60 years ago. It was first introduced in IBM S/360, which is probably the most talked about computer in the history of mankind. The heart of this computer was Moore's law - the observation that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles about every two years. However, with the explosion in the number of applications we use to make our lives easier, the exponential increase in energy consumption & costs, and the failure to double transistors every two years, we are at the end of Moore's Law.
On the other hand, the productivity across the industries is flaring high because we can interface with computers intuitively. You don't have to be a domain expert in computer science. This is only possible with a computing architecture that has been in formation for the past 30 years. Today, NVIDIA is at the tipping point of Accelerated Computing. The term 'Accelerated Computing' refers to the ability to bring intelligent applications of different sizes and opportunities onto a computing platform while conserving energy tremendously.
Given the enormous possibilities of accelerated computing, what's in it for India from this context?
As most of us know, India has been the cradle of humans for generations, and in recent times, it's defined as the world's back office. Today, India has a tremendous opportunity to be the front office of the world, thanks to AI, accelerated computing, and us increasingly finding ways to co-exist with computers as a single unit. We are a nation known for our software engineers who serve the entire world. With the adoption of new natural language models, we can increase the productivity of our software engineers to the tune of four to five times. This will enable the quantum of our software engineers to take us to the front office of the world.
It is imperative that every leader comprehend what AI really means and what is the tripod that we are talking about
Additionally, from a business processes perspective, whether it is sales, marketing, or any other functional department, businesses can unlock the next level of productivity. On the other hand, from a societal standpoint, we believe some of our country's grand challenges across education, healthcare, and mobility can also be resolved. That's why this whole AI strategy paper that was published and #AI_for_all is not only critical but also gives us a platform to leapfrog on top of it. Hence, I'm thrilled about this opportunity called India.
It's beyond any doubt that information technology investments globally are poised to skyrocket going forward. What will be the driving factor of this growth?
In every country, 'Intelligence' will play a crucial role. If the Software 1.0 and Software 2.0 eras were mostly about software engineers, today, Software 3.0 is all about a democratized digital experience where you and I can interact with the computer and derive intelligence. That intelligence is the need of the hour across business verticals. It will take all economies to the next league, and definitely the Indian economy.
How do you perceive the capabilities of AI and accelerated computing beyond the horizons of business?
The month of July has been an eye-opener, especially for India. Instead of typical summer heatwaves, India witnessed heavy rains, floods, and even landslides across the country. Deciphering climate change is a high-performance computing problem. Looking further back, COVID-19 basically opened our eyes to discovering new drugs in a shorter span of time. More importantly, the world learned how to exchange knowledge on treatments where humanity is extremely important.
AI creates new avenues to solve these high-performance computing problems. We gather facts from the ground, extrapolate the data, and create simulations to determine the underlying issues. When we infuse it with AI, we can now make much larger simulations, which give you solutions and help determine the action plans to execute those solutions. That's a great advantage that makes it a need of humanity.
What does technology leadership mean in today's complex, high-demanding technology ecosystem?
Regardless of the spectrum, a leader's primary role is to create conditions wherein people around them can succeed in the respective ecosystem and accomplish their life's work. You can look at it from the context of a nation, an industry vertical, a company, or small teams within the company. You can also look at it from the context of society—every leader must create conducive conditions to help humanity do its life's work. From that standpoint, it is imperative that every leader comprehend what AI really means and what is the tripod that we are talking about. It is super critical for every leader to understand everything from how data is sourced and pipelined to how data sets are created.
The second part is the algorithm in which the data can be applied to create insights. Let's take the analogy of a car. You must create a refined engine to feed the fuel and gain the advantage of traveling from one place to another comfortably and economically. Hence, understanding what the algorithms are supposed to do and, more importantly, how the data pipelines are built are paramount.
The third component is the architectural change taking place. How AI operates today radically differs from what it used to be in the Software 1.0 era. The computing platform is being reimagined and rephrased. If you're unable to comprehend what this unique situation demands, you might be missing out on a critical component of this tripod to balance out your requirements. In a nutshell, a leader must understand and leverage this tripod to create the utmost favorable conditions and then leverage the power of your team to create and execute strategies.
Breaking it down to my case, I always believe a leader is a coach who sees the conditions against an objective that needs to be achieved. A leader brings talented people in to create a team and enable them to find their best version. It's like the symphony—like how the conductor of the symphony brings together experts of different instruments toward a common objective. The harmony helps you to produce the desired outcomes. More importantly, it also facilitates growth on an individual objectives level. This is precisely where a coach comes in, and it is something that highly inspires me. As a coach, I believe one of my key strengths is my ability to understand the present and what is required to make that transition to the future.
Favorite Movies: "One of the recent movies I loved was Oppenheimer. It was interesting to see what the will of people and their understanding of a domain could achieve for mankind at large."
Favorite Books: "I love reading books, especially classic business genres. One of my favorites is Rare Air: Michael on Michael by Michel Jordan, wherein he talks about the transformation of sports personnel endorsement. The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen is another of my favorites."
Favorite Cuisines: "Having grown up in India, fresh Indian cuisine is something I always enjoy. I also love Thai, Japanese, and European cuisines."
Favorite Travel Destinations: "As a son of an army officer, I've enjoyed traveling in India quite a lot. That's pretty much ingrained in me. I also love exploring Europe."