On 25 Aug 2017, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry constituted the “Task Force on Artificial Intelligence (AI) for India’s Economic Transformation”. The Task Force, chaired by Professor V Kamakoti of IIT, Madras, consists of experts from academia, research laboratories and industry. In addition, the Task Force also has government officials from NITI Aayog, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Department of Science & Technology, UIDAI and DRDO. It is expected to submit concrete recommendations for government, industry and research institutions. However, no timeline for submission of the report has been announced.
The constitution of the Task Force has not come any time soon. Fuelled by rapid development in the fields of AI, robotics and Big Data Analytics, the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” or Industry 4.0 that seeks to revolutionise manufacturing has commenced. In addition, the rapid advances in AI have such widespread implications that it is time to consider AI development, funding and implementation as a national imperative. AI technology is expected to drive transformations across the economy as well as national security.
Between Oct to Dec 2016, the United States White House, under President Barack Obama released three reports on the future directions and considerations for AI in the US.
- Preparing for the future of Artificial Intelligence.
- The National Artificial Intelligence research and Development Strategic Plan.
- Artificial Intelligence, Automation and the Economy.
On 20 July 2017, China’s State Council released “A Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan” that dwells on the national blueprint for development of AI capabilities with broad goals till 2030 by when it intends to “lead the world”.
In Sep 2017, on the first day of the new school year in Russia, President Vladimir Putin spoke to students on a national “open lesson” and said the country that takes the lead in the sphere of AI will rule. “Artificial intelligence is the future not only of Russia but of all of mankind,” said Putin. “There are huge opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to foresee today.”
In India, the development of AI based applications has been driven primarily by the private sector, especially start-ups. Implementation of AI solutions has also been in the private sector with the most widespread use seen in consumer targeting by e-commerce sites, chat bots of banks and information technology services. There are no reports of any major AI development in Government laboratories or Public Sector. AI can be used to transform sectors related to governance and national security. Hence, it is imperative that the government determines the national policy that will govern the trajectory of AI development in the country. The primary issues that need to be considered include the following:-
- Funding models for AI research – Government will need to fund specific projects/groups in either the private or public sector.
- Creation of infrastructure for AI innovation – This will include creation of cloud-computing infrastructure that will be capable of storing and computing massive volumes of data.
- Education and Skill development to face up to the challenges of AI.
- Investment in AI for Governance and Industry.
- Investment in AI for National Security.