In June, 2018, NITI Aayog came up with a national strategy for Artificial Intelligence in India. The report provided an overview of the government’s plan and roadmap to develop the sector in the country. Through adequate implementation of strategy, Artificial Intelligence is expected to help the country grow economically while contributing to social development to a great extent. The following write-up tries to take the readers through the current status of AI industry in India and how it may turn out to be in future.
A news report published in October in The Economic Times said, “Start-ups witness 108% growth in funding in India in 2018.” The news report further mentioned that Artificial Intelligence was among those domains which witnessed fastest adoption among industry sectors. Currently there are about 400 start-ups working on AI and machine learning domains. About $150 million dollars is invested in India’s AI sector by private players alone and the number has been growing since 2016. Though there has been growth, India lags far behind countries like US and China in terms of investment. With a copious pool of STEM talent and with growing population of youngsters, India will be banking on AI for its economic growth and improvement in quality of life of its citizens.
There are several start-ups that are based in cities such as Bengaluru, New Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad which work on artificial intelligence principles to serve consumers better. Their product range vary from multi-lingual chat bots to online shopping assistance and automated consumer data analysis. The companies have been working in areas such as e-commerce, healthcare, edtech, fintech etc. Though in their nascent stage, the performance of these companies have been promising.
The National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence which was put together by government of India through NITI Aayog, sets the roadmap on how to develop AI in the country. The report points out to how AI will help the country grow, what are the strengths and what are the challenges on the way. The government has identified few areas where it thinks AI will play a crucial role as far as India is concerned. The role of AI few prime areas have been listed below.
India is a vast country and primary healthcare facilities have not sufficiently reached all nooks and corners of it. With lagging infrastructure and less number of doctors per 1000 citizens, it is challenging to the government to promise good quality healthcare to its citizens. Artificial Intelligence is expected to aid India to a great extent in providing better healthcare in future. With effective use of data and algorithms, AI can help in detecting fatal diseases such as cancer ensure preventive treatment instead of reactive care. The government will work towards addressing challenges such as accessibility and affordability with the aid of AI. On the other hand tech giants such as Microsoft are joining hands with both start-ups and reputed healthcare organisations to offer AI based products such as the 3Nethra which can scan and detect eye problems. Such associations can improve the efficiency of healthcare services.
The growing migration of population towards the cities has posed a great challenge to India. The cities’ civic bodies have been struggling to provide quality infrastructure and reduce transportation woes in India’s large metropolis. AI can bring about a major change in cities of the future. With the ripe data base and necessary applications in place the principles of AI can help reduce congestion on roads, aid civic bodies in addressing citizen grievances, timely repair and maintenance of public property, thereby improving the quality of life of city dwellers.
Capital and qualified manpower are the two main pillars that are required for the establishment and growth of any sector. India is home to a large talent pool of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math graduates. Companies such as Google, Intel and Microsoft have been offering short term training programs to computer program developers which help them upskill in the area of AI programming. On the other hand AICTE, the government body which governs and regulates professional education in India, recently added AI, IoT, Machine Learning and few other subjects as mandatory subjects in its curriculum of B.Tech programs. Changes in curriculum and content are further expected in the days to come.
Investment towards AI from the private players has been increasing in India ($44 million in 2016 to $77 million in 2017). The start-ups have been working towards developing various AI based products and services. With conglomerates having a lion’s share in India’s market, there is huge scope for AI based enterprise solutions in the country. The increasing demand for products and services can attract more investment towards R&D in AI sector.
iNurture, one of the leading enablers of industry-ready UG and PG education in India, has identified AI as one of the next-gen technologies that can shape the future of the world and can create plenty of job opportunities. iNurture is offering UG programs specializing in Artificial Intelligence domain through various universities in India. The program is designed keeping in mind the needs of current and future industry.