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Reflections From India’s New AI Strategy

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Michael Brown

July 10, 2018
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Press releases on different countries’ AI strategies are beginning to feel like a weekly occurrence. This week it is India who has released their “National Strategy for AI“. We have written a collection of blog posts in the past months that cover AI Nationalism, AI policies around the world, and US’ policy towards AI. As we have discussed, AI has the potential to be truly transformation in nature, but, with minimal adoption today, the slate is clear for countries to dictate the future of AI. In light of India’s recent press release, we wanted to dive in and examine India’s new AI strategy.

One of the opening lines to India’s new AI strategy exemplifies why a country like India needs to be on the forefront of the technological shift: “India, being the fastest growing economy with the second largest population in the world, has a significant stake in the AI revolution.” AI has the potential to revolutionize many areas, and India is recognizing its potential and the need to strategize for it. In doing so India has announced that they will be establishing a National Program on AI, which will guide the research and development in new and emerging technologies. Highlighted below is where India will be focusing, what they will have to overcome, and how they plan to attack AI:

1. India Will Be Focusing On Five Main Sectors. India’s new AI strategy will focus on five sectors in which they believe AI can be most beneficial to the country. Because of the diverse nature of India, a highly focused approach with specific verticals is necessary. Working and investing in many AI startups, we tend to see the most successful companies focus on specific verticals (i.e. healthcare), and countries aren’t any different in our minds. India plans to focus on healthcare, agriculture, education, smart cities and infrastructure, and smart mobility and transportation. The ultimate goal from this focus is to maximize the effect that AI can have. For healthcare and education, the specific goal is to provide more and better access to citizens of India. The focus on agriculture revolves around improving the efficiency and financial stability of farmers. Similar to the US’ policy on AI, India’s new AI strategy will have a strong focus towards smart cities and smart mobility. The Government of India is currently attempting to develop smart cities to deal with challenges that are caused by unplanned urbanization. They believe that AI can be used to help improve quality of life and power economic growth. India wants to use AI to improve transportation and make it safer, as well as improving traffic and congestion problems.

2. India Has Major Barriers It Needs To Address. India’s new AI strategy mentioned five issues that need to be tackled in order for the country to be successful in the “AI arms race”. The barriers include: (1) lack of broad based expertise in research and application of AI, (2) absence of enabling data ecosystems – access to intelligent data, (3) high resource cost and low awareness for adoption of AI, (4) privacy and security, including a lack of formal regulations around anonymization of data, and (5) absence of collaborative approach to adoption and application of AI. As we wrote about in a previous post, we know the potential effect that the emergence of AI technology may have on jobs. India plans to deal with the need for reskilling and developing future talent with decentralized teaching mechanisms that will collaborate with the the private companies and universities. The report also adds that it is important that they promote job creation in new areas to help replace the jobs that will end up being unnecessary.

3. India Plans To Create Two Organizations To Help Improve AI Development. The national strategy for AI paper proposes two organizations to help India’s AI Strategy. The first organization is the Centre of Research Excellence (CORE). CORE would be focused on creating a better understanding of the research that has already been done as well as furthering research with the creation of new knowledge. The second organization would be the International Centers of Transformational AI (ICTAI). The private sector would be heavily involved in ICTAI as it will be in charge of developing and utilizing application-based research.

AI is poised to disrupt our world, with potential to affect a wide range of industries. India plans to involve both the public and private sector seems very balanced at first glance. With one of the largest populations in the world, India’s focus on enhancing and empowering human capabilities to address the challenges is a step in the right direction. It is encouraging to see the plethora of nations that have publicly announced plans to implement AI policies.

If you liked “Reflections From India’s New AI Strategy” and want to read more content from the Bowery Capital Team, check out other relevant posts from the Bowery Capital Blog. Special thanks to Eric Herzfeld and Nour Jedidi for their contribution and work on this post.