The Future Of Artificial Intelligence In India
Artificial Intelligence has become pervasive in our day to day lives. Organizations from all around the world are turning towards AI to revolutionise the way businesses are run. In fact, even in India, AI adoption has shot up drastically, especially in the last couple of years. However, we are still far from the highly ambitious goal of having machines advance to the level of human intelligence.
The past decade has been nothing less than a miracle as we witnessed the remarkable rise of Artificial Intelligence. It has changed the way we live and experience the world. The rise can be attributed to an extraordinary growth in data, computational power and extensive research in the field, among other factors. We can gain a perspective of the growth by recalling the landmark innovations of the past decade. Virtual assistants such as Alexa, highly sophisticated humanoid robots such as Sophia, Tesla’s first version of AutoPilot, deepfakes, OpenAI’s language prediction model GPT-3 are some of the astounding innovations in the field of Artificial Intelligence. In India, startups are leveraging AI solutions in various domains such as healthcare, education, consultancy, fintech, etc. In fact, Accenture has estimated that Artificial Intelligence has the potential to add $957 billion to the market by the next 15 years.
This brings us to the question of how the technology is maturing and what does the future of AI look like in India. To answer this, we should understand the concept of strong and weak AI.
Strong Versus Weak Artificial Intelligence
Weak AI is a simple simulation of human intelligence and is generally weakly programmed. This means that it has a set of predefined responses but has no real understanding of the same. For example, a highly sophisticated chess AI may be incapable of playing a much simpler game such as Ludo. This is an instance of specific intelligence wherein the AI has been programmed only for a specific task and it cannot think beyond that. All in all, the machines are largely dependent on human intervention. However, Weak AI is extremely beneficial for automating redundant, cumbersome and time-consuming tasks.
Strong AI (also known as deep AI), on the other hand, is a hypothetical model which enables reasoning, making judgements and learning on its own with the help of general intelligence. It comes as close as possible to human intelligence and can even surpass it which is why it is also termed as Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). We could imagine Strong AI as something which is depicted in some of the popular Hollywood and Bollywood AI movies. However, in reality, we are far from the goal of building machines with strong AI. Experts argue that strong AI may be developed in the next couple of decades. Ray Kurzweil, American entrepreneur, inventor and futurist, stated:
“Artificial intelligence will reach human levels by around 2029. Follow that out further to, say, 2045, we will have multiplied the intelligence, the human biological machine intelligence of our civilization a billion-fold.”
However many experts believe that development of strong AI will take centuries and others think that strong AI will never be a reality. The major problem is that there is no unanimous understanding on what constitutes intelligence and what is the criterion for classifying strong and weak AI.
Nevertheless, in order to explore the plethora of possibilities, there are many programs that are conducted worldwide to advance research in the field. India, which is also one of the fastest growing economies in the world with top institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology, is a leading research hub for artificial intelligence.
AI Research in India
India’s national think-tank, Niti Aayog, in 2018, made incredible predictions on AI’s disruptive potential in the country. Following this, the government introduced several schemes to boost AI research in India. This included a funding of ₹3,660 crore for cyber-physical systems (NM-ICPS) based on machine learning, deep learning, big data analytics, data science, predictive analytics, etc. Following this, a study conducted by Itihaasa showed that India’s progress in research was quite evident. Itihaasa ranked India third in terms of making high quality research publications in the field of Artificial Intelligence.
As of now, the most development is through the AI pilot projects undertaken by the government and startups to improve healthcare and agriculture, among others.
Major Challenges That Lie Ahead for India
AI research efforts are centered towards building specialized intelligent systems. However, this requires an exponential amount of data and high computational powers for analysis. Some challenges faced in India include limited availability of high quality data. In fact, reports also suggest that people are more concerned about sharing data, even if it is meant to be helpful in the long run. A majority of the participants of a survey conducted by PwC agreed that they had significant concerns pertaining to data privacy and would not be willing to share their data. Therefore, data privacy is still a matter of great hindrance in the development of AI in India.
Ethical Challenges in AI
Among other challenges are ethical dilemmas while designing AI. AI ethics include principles and values to guide design and development of intelligent systems. An example of AI based on human biases was seen in Amazon’s intelligent hiring tool which taught itself that male candidates were preferred to female candidates. Another example is the offensive text generated by the most powerful language generator yet, GPT-3. Some of the offensive text generated by GPT-3 included hate speech, misogynistic, homophobic and racist slurs. For example, when asked about the problems in Ethiopia, a GPT-3-based chatbot responded:
“The main problem with Ethiopia is that Ethiopia itself is the problem. It seems like a country whose existence cannot be justified.”
This throws light on how even the most powerful AI-based language generator is still victim to the cesspits of the internet. Moving forward, it will be very important to address the ethical challenges of AI because of the profound impact it has on us. Research in ethics of AI will play an important role as there is a moral obligation to address the biases in AI systems.