Q. “Artificial intelligence is going to change every industry, but we have to understand its limits”. In light of this, discuss the benefits and challenges associated with AI in Indian context.

Model Answer

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the ability of machines to learn and reason through analogy, analyze, interpret information, recognize speech, visual perception and take decisions. In other words, AI is application of human intelligence by the machines.

Benefits of AI

  • Contribution to Economy: The NITI Aayog estimates that AI could potentially give 15% boost to the gross value added (GVA) for the economy by 2035, adding $957 billion to India’s $6397 billion-dollar GVA projected for that year.
  • Access To Affordable Healthcare: The application of AI could increase access to and affordability of quality healthcare. India, with its acute shortage of specialist doctors in rural areas, could benefit greatly from such a tool.
  • Benefits In Agriculture: It can enhance farmer’s income, increase productivity and reduce wastage when used in agriculture. For instance, in agriculture, Microsoft, in collaboration with ICRISAT, has developed an AI-enabled sowing app that sends advisories to farmers on the best date to sow, soil-test based fertilizer application, manure application, seed treatment, optimal sowing depth, etc. In 2017, 3,000 farmers in Andhra and Karnataka used the app, resulting in a 10-30% increase in kharif yields across crops.
  • Benefit in Education: In areas of education, AI can improve access and quality of education. For ex- to tackle school dropout, the AP government has partnered with Microsoft to keep track of data relating to student’s demographic details, past and current academic performance, teacher skills to identify those likely to drop out.
  • Benefit In Infrastructure And Transportation Sector: The AI can also help in improving connectivity and safer modes of transportation when put to infrastructure and transportation sectors.
  • Manufacturing Sector: Robots are being used for manufacturing since a long time now, however, more advanced exponential technologies have emerged such as additive manufacturing (3D Printing), which with the help of AI can revolutionize the entire manufacturing supply chain ecosystem.
  • Legal Sector: Automation can lead to faster resolution of already pending cases by reducing the time taken while analyzing cases thus better use of time and more efficient processes.

Challenges In AI

The Aayog identified barriers that need to be surmounted to achieve success in the use of AI. These include lack of expertise, absence of enabling data ecosystem, high resource cost and low awareness, privacy and security issues, and absence of collaborative approach to adoption and application of AI.

  • Lack of AI Expertise: India hardly has any AI expertise today. As only around 4% of Indian AI professionals are trained in emerging technologies such as deep learning.
  • Lack Of Adequate Data: AI takes reams of historical data as input, identifies the relationships among data elements, and makes predictions. Unfortunately, India has sparse data in many sectors.
  • Lack Of Funding And Deadline: It is one of the major challenges faced by the AI sector in India.
  • Unemployment: Other major concerns is the possibility of human beings losing out on employment opportunities due to machines’ ability to perform the same tasks more efficiently. Automation has already rendered a huge number of people jobless all around the world. 
  • Challenge In Form Of Regulations: Another major concern is about difficulties in regulation of machines in the human society. For ex- how can the self-driven cars that crash be held accountable for their actions? 

Conclusion

To truly harness AI’s transformative potential, India must address its lack of expertise in AI research. With a billion-plus people populating the unique-ID system Aadhaar and the India Stack of digitally enabled offerings built on top of Aadhaar, the country has a platform for growth unlike any other in the world. It can in principle catalyze innovative applications, nurture an entrepreneurial ecosystem and generate a massive amount of data that can train algorithms and help develop more intelligence. The technology can address long-standing societal and human development problems of the kind that abound in India. 

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