How the Powerful Artificial Intelligence Can Bring Revolutionary Changes in India
Artificial intelligence (AI), along with machine learning (ML), computer vision and the Internet of things (IoT), is fast evolving as significant general-purpose technology. Today, the amalgamation of these technologies are turning things into reality, what used to be the stuff of sci-fi novels just a few decades ago. For a very long time, professors, technology experts, scholars and all alike from diverse disciplines have been predicting how AI and the correlated technologies are about to change the way we think, work and live. Now, the day has come, where humankind is already witnessing and will further witness the revolution due to AI. A few years back, AI & ML was a buzzword only in the realm of technology, however, in the current era, it is no longer restricted to just the technology domain and is currently being pursued widely across all major sectors, such as manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, retail, banking and financial services, and public utilities. Not just that, but AI is even being implemented in the fields of national defence and security. While an increasing number of industries such as gaming, IT & software, robotics & automation, to name a few, have already embraced AI and started to reap its benefits, many others seem willing to explore the significant business opportunities and societal value offered by AI.
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AI has the potential to add $957 billion, or 15 percent of India’s current gross value in 2035. The combination of the technology, data and talent that make intelligent systems possible has reached critical mass, driving extraordinary growth in AI investment. India has been ranked on the third spot after the US and China in terms of artificial intelligence (AI) implementation, according to BCG study, the Ghost in the Machine: Artificial Intelligence in the Factory of the Future. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study surveyed manufacturing and technology managers from about 1100 industrial companies worldwide about their applications of and willingness to invest in AI. Almost 90 percent of executives said that they aim to integrate AI in their processes in the next three years. Nonetheless, so far only 28 percent have created a clear strategy for AI in manufacturing. These stats show that India as a developing country is heavily inclined towards the implementation of AI in order to achieve the development goals as a nation. But, what exactly will change, and how will it affect or add value to the development of a nation? The answer is simple, but here is an example which will further simplify it - AI has a potential of creating an impact on the society while shaping it as it can affect the emerging markets where the main workforce is non-intellectual labour. AI is capable of making robots more intelligent in doing repetitive laborious tasks, which means the human jobs in manufacturing will diminish, or we can say it will upgrade. Apart from that, the Indian market may not remain dependent on any other country for manufacturing. There are many other advantages which AI can bring to the nation and today we’ll talk about it. Let’s have a look.
Agriculture: AI, along with other digital technologies, will play a key role in modernizing agricultural activities and realizing the goal of doubling the farmer’s income by 2022. The global ‘AI in agriculture’ market size is expected to be worth $2.6 billion by 2025.
From the improvement of crop productivity to soil health monitoring and optimization of pest & weed management to water management, AI can create actual differences in the agriculture industry of India. Currently, state governments have collaborated with technology giants for developing ML-based multi-variant agro-commodity price forecasting models which determine the minimum support price (MSP) for products. Right now, only about six percent of farmers in India get benefits of MSP. A better price realization for farmers is possible through an effective price discovery model. Predictive modelling using AI can be instrumental in presenting more accurate demand-supply information and predicting demand for agricultural produce to farmers.
Further, AI is also being used to assist farmers in smart farming by informing them of the optimal time for sowing, providing timely and site-specific information about crop health and disease spreads. AI can also pave the way for intelligent farm mechanization by building autonomous/semi-autonomous vehicles for harvesting. Further down the value chain, it can be leveraged to reduce wastage and spoilage through effective commodity packaging and storage.
With more than 500+ AgriTech start-ups in India, the Agritech momentum is gaining pace in India. Many of these start-ups are leveraging technologies like AI, machine learning, etc. for improving efficiency, yield, speeding up agricultural finance, and other functions that are vital for India’s agricultural growth.
Consumer and retail: The integration of AI has been seamless across the consumer and retail sector and its impact on our lives can be witnessed on a daily basis. In the retail industry, the sales data that AI learns from is the actual sales figure linked to the customer data. When this information is run through the machine learning algorithm, an AI model is produced which discovers actionable information about a business, customer and inventory which are not known to the business owners in normal circumstances. With this information in hand, a retailer can devise numerous strategies to increase the scalability of his business. Also, AI-powered products and services such as digital assistants, customer service bots, and recommendation engines for e-commerce and entertainment portals are just a few examples of AI making inroads into the lives of consumers. AI also finds applications in offline stores for optimizing inventory, logistics and product placement, among other uses. With the advent of robotics and augmented and virtual reality, the sector is geared towards further improving customer experience.
Education: AI has been percolating into the education sector at a slower pace as compared to the other sectors and its application is most prevalent across start-ups, which aim at improving the quality of education by providing personalized recommendations to teachers and students using an AI platform. Also, it is still too soon to start seeing robotics in classrooms, AI is already becoming an effective teaching tool because of its ability to adapt and offer customized curricula. AI-enabled tools help assess an individual’s current level of understanding, identify gaps and offer tailored suggestions, just like a teacher would.
Though traditional educational institutes may see a decline in the number of students, as innovative technologies will bring education online and make it more personalized with the help of AI. However, the innovative institutes and centres for entertainment, philosophy, and arts may see the growth. AI and such emerging technologies could be further leveraged to alleviate the inaccessibility of experienced knowledge practitioners in remote locations through robotic teaching assistants that emulate their teaching style, either on a standalone basis or in real-time collaboration with human teachers. In order to make the aforementioned plans a success, the government of India has set up a task force with a comprehensive plan to boost the AI sector and leverage the capabilities associated with related- technologies, infrastructure, data usage and research. Apart from governmental initiatives, certain institutes are progressively utilizing AI to enhance their learning processes and provide quality education to students at par with international colleges.
Healthcare: The healthcare sector in India already bears the burden of a rocketing population and a dearth of trained doctors and nurses, thus depriving a large segment of people of primary healthcare services. Hence, the implementation of AI & ML is a dire need in the sector. If adopted early and properly the AI would help improve the healthcare sector in giving more advanced, caring and personalized services, which would help the nation to further enhance the quality of its offering in this domain, and attract good business from developed countries for being economical. Studies have shown that deep learning algorithms have given better insights to clinicians in predicting prognosis and future events in patients. Also, advanced digital technologies can help in prevention as well as early detection of diseases by capturing and analyzing various vitals of patients. Not just that but AI has the potential to reduce healthcare costs. With the development of technology & artificial intelligence, healthcare can eventually be delivered at a lower cost because when efficiency is increased, diagnostics will be more focused.
Industry Automation: With the implementation of AI a lot of jobs in manufacturing and IT maintenance would diminish, but this doesn’t mean it is a bane to the industry. We have time in our hands and for at least next 10 years the opportunity lies in training the workforce to create and tune the AI technology so that it can be employed in helping the companies across the globe adopt AI. This as a result easily creates millions of jobs open in the AI domain across the globe, and the good thing is most of those jobs can be carried out remotely. Another advantage is that India has created its name in IT services so gaining the projects in AI services will not be an uphill task.
Manufacturing & supply chain: The use of AI in the manufacturing & supply chain will bring huge changes. The automated manufacturing machines use AI solutions to identify faults in the manufacturing process and notify the production team to eliminate product quality issues. Manufacturing companies are also installing AI-enabled predictive maintenance systems that are capable of self-monitoring and reporting malfunctions in real-time. The manufacturing sector has resorted to IoT enablement and AI/ML techniques for inventory optimization, predictive asset maintenance, robust demand forecasting, structured scenario analysis, defect detection of raw materials and inefficient machines, yield optimization, and reduction in the cost of poor quality, to name a few.
AI in supply chains helps in organizing and analyzing data, which helps decision-making problems, ranging from logistics to warehousing. Such AI-enabled applications in the manufacturing industry are expected to improve efficiency and aid saving of time. In the transportation function, data on geolocation, traffic and weather can be used for AI-driven smart scheduling and real-time route adjustments to overcome traffic jams. Automated vehicles and driver assistance systems enabled using computer vision can now transport goods more efficiently. These technologies help in building advanced supply chains that are more resilient to uncontrollable events like traffic, weather or accidents. Over the past few years, venture capital firms and global companies like GVFL Ltd., Bosch and Hitachi High-Tech Solutions Corporation have invested in Indian AI start-ups serving the manufacturing industry. These investment activities have supported the development of AI-based solutions, as a result, propelling the growth of AI in the Indian manufacturing industry.
Sports: Earlier it was expected that AI will not play any major role in the game & sports industry, but with the advancement, the thought changed. AI technology in the sports industry was being implemented to track player performance and help to improve the health of the player by suggestions on an injury, but now AI and machine learning are used in further complicated & advanced processes. From chatbots to network vision concepts, AI is now being applied to a number of sports enterprise applications to improve sports planning. This in return is also enhancing the scope of AI Development companies to provide the solutions for the sports industries with unique features. Hence, it helps to predict the game before that helps to develop strategies to beat the game in the competition. Not just that but AI is helping with fan engagement and customer services for various digital-based sports companies.
Government’s initiative: Recognizing AI’s potential to transform economies and the need for India to strategies its approach, the government, in its budget for 2018-19, mandated NITI Aayog to establish the National Program on AI, with a view to guiding the research and development in new and emerging technologies.
The NITI Aayog is working on creating a regional language AI-natural language processing library for entrepreneurs and developers. The prime minister has called for 'Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat'. Preserving the diversity of our many languages, while fostering more communication between citizens, is a goal of the government. NITI has begun exploring the inception of a national language processing platform that can provide AI applications (current and future) with APIs/open source libraries to do natural languages processing tasks like entity extraction and intent recognition on indigenous languages. This will enable AI developers to reach the entire smartphone subscriber base, and not just the English-speaking base, without building their own models for their languages.
Not just that, but government is also making further efforts to encourage and implement AI for the betterment of the nation. Recently in the Responsible AI for Social Empowerment (RAISE) 2020 summit PM Narendra Modi addressed the importance of AI, and discussed about the 'Responsible AI for Youth' program through which 11,000 students from schools have completed their basic course. He also stated that those student are now building projects related to Artificial Intelligence. The prime goal of such summit is to create awareness and to drive India’s vision & roadmap for social empowerment, inclusion and transformation through responsible AI. The intensity of such summit can easily be speculated by the statements of the Prime Minister, as he stated “We want India to become a global hub for AI and many Indians are already working on this. I hope many more do so in the times to come. The teamwork of AI with humans can do wonders for our planet and RAISE 2020 is a great effort to encourage discussion on Artificial Intelligence”.
AI is a fundamental innovation. It will be bigger than the advent of the Internet or the harnessing of electricity. In the years to come, it will transform every single industry and sector. India as a developing nation must embrace it with all its might. The significant need for technology to bridge resource gaps in India, and the potential of AI to offer affordable solutions at scale means that India may soon be poised to realize the benefits of these technologies on various outcomes.