Around the world, India is well known for ‘IT’. 1.3 million students graduate in Engineering of which a large percentage have a degree in computer science. Now marry this fact with the large scale research and democratization of AI. What you have is a nation with immense youth equipped with the skills to tackle the problems of tomorrow. In this article, we talk about AI in India from three different corners
According to various sources, India ranks third in the number of papers published in the field of AI. But when the number of citations, meaning the number of times a research paper is being referred, India ranks fifth. Meaning the quality of research in AI in India has to be improved. NITI Aayog, a government think tank estimates that AI, if integrated successfully into operations can add benefits worth $1 trillion to the economy.
In addition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also opened India’s first AI research institute in Mumbai – Wadhwani AI. The institute will focus on researching ways to harness the power of AI to solve deep-rooted problems in healthcare, education, agriculture, and infrastructure to accelerate social development. Founded by Indian-American tech entrepreneurs Dr Romesh Wadhwani and Mr Sunil Wadhwani, the institute will be led by AI pioneer and founding MD of Microsoft Research India, Dr P. Anandan.
Apart from research, in terms of education, there have been a number of programs launched by private and government institutes. Recently, IIT Hyderabad launched its first bachelor’s program in AI. It will commence from the year 2019 and has 20 seats for its first batch. The B.Tech. in Artificial Intelligence course will include the study of algorithms, signal processing, robotics and mathematical foundations. It will also focus on application verticals such as healthcare, agriculture, smart mobility, and more. IIT Hyderabad notes that the ethical impact of AI and related technologies on areas such as privacy, bias, and related issues will also be taught to the students.
IIT Kharagpur, IIM Calcutta and ISI Kolkata have collaboratively launched Post Graduate Diploma in Business Analytics (PGDBA). It is a full time 2-year residential program aimed at imparting advanced analytics training. IIM Bangalore has its own Business Analytics and Intelligence program which spans over 9 months. IISc Bangalore offers a Masters degree in Computational and Data Science
Indian AI startups raised about $87 million in 2017. In 2018, Indian startups with operations in India and worldwide raised USD$ 529.52 million. All the high-growth companies that attracted big ticket funding had AI as a core product or are applying AI, ML technologies to verticals like healthcare, finance, supply chain and energy.
There is no well defined AI market in India yet. AI finds its niche in almost every market. For example, a startup niki.ai provides chatbot service to automate tasks like handling orders and payments. Niki.ai has raised funding from eminent investors such as Ratan Tata and Unilazer Ventures and reports 35% month to month growth in revenues.Rivigo, a Gurgaon based AI enabled logistic services offers pan-India delivery services to e-commerce, pharma, automobiles, cold-chain and FMCG players.
Sigtuple, a Bangalore based Healthcare startups founded by former American Express executives, Raised over $6.5 million dollars from IDG, Pi ventures, Accel partners etc. They are helping hospitals and healthcare centres improve the speed and accuracy of blood reports. In finance space, Active.ai, a Bangalore based firm founded by former bankers, has raised over $3.5 million from Kalaari and IDG Ventures. It is an intelligent interface that allows banks and consumers to connect over chat. Artivatic Data Labs empowers an enterprise through its AI Enterprise Tech Platform to take efficient human-like decisions on behalf of the businesses. It helps to integrate intelligent solutions and products without any external effort or human intervention. Built on neuroscience capabilities, genomic science, and psychology.
NITI Aayog released a discussion paper on AI strategy in India. According to its discussion, the government of India will focus on implementing AI solutions in 5 key areas.
- Healthcare – to increase affordability and quality of healthcare services provided to the citizens.
- Agriculture – Increase farmers productivity and reduce wastage.
- Education – Improved access to quality education
- Smart Cities and Infrastructure: efficient and connectivity for the burgeoning urban population
- Smart Mobility and Transportation: smarter and safer modes of transportation and better traffic and congestion problems
NITI Aayog chief Amitabh Kant says,”The paper gives many disruptive suggestion including one to utilize market place models for data, annotation, and deployable solutions in AI. We need to democratise access to and development of this technology”
The paper also proposed a two-tiered structure to address India’s AI research aspirations:
- Centre of Research Excellence (CORE) focused on developing a better understanding of existing core research and pushing technology frontiers through creation of new knowledge
- International Centers of Transformational AI (ICTAI) with a mandate of developing and deploying application-based research. Private sector collaboration is envisioned to be a key aspect of ICTAIs.
Recently, a startup named One Fourth Labs, started by two IIT Madras professors Mitesh Khapra and Pratyush Kumar have started a four month course on deep learning that focuses on solving India specific problems. Their course can be taken by students as well as professionals. Students have to pay 1180 INR and professionals, 5900 INR. The course commences from 1st Feb.
From multiple perspectives, AI in India is being promoted. But what’s concerning is how well we do in comparison to other nations in this so-called fourth Industrial Revolution. There are hundreds of issues lying around in our countries for years. Can technology be answers to these questions?