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By Jibu Elias
“We should use AI in a more focused manner for agriculture, healthcare, to education, as AI will enable us to explore more opportunities and address more challenges.”
Artificial intelligence has the ability to transform human civilisation unlike any other technological leaps that preceded it. In recent years, global nations have finally woken up to the infinite potential this nascent technology offers in terms of economic benefits and strategic advantages, leading over 15 of them to develop national strategies and initiatives to leverage the power of this game-changing tool.
Some of them, like the USA and China, have the highest aspirations for becoming world leader at present and the undisputed master of artificial general intelligence (AGI) and artificial super-intelligence (ASI) in future. Others wanted to be the leaders of certain niche domains, as with the case of the United Kingdom and Canada. But unlike the rest of G20, India has taken a unique and noble approach when it comes to its AI aspirations, which is to develop and deploy the technology as a transformative tool for social empowerment and economic inclusion, as well as setting a new model for the rest of the emerging economies to follow. And no one embodies this vision better than our IT Minister Sri Ravi Shankar Prasad.
“AI is a digital brain that works on data which can remove conventional roadblocks for fast-tracking decision making or in creating an enabling atmosphere for millions of Indians,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad during the launch of the National AI Portal.
Despite numerous reports pointing out the fact that India could potentially add $957 billion or 15 per cent of its gross value through AI by 2035, the Minister remains focused on his vision to bring social upliftment of the disadvantaged and marginalised section of the country’s population using AI.
“If we are able to empower ordinary Indians with the power of technologies such as AI, then that will be a defining moment for us,” stated Ravi Shankar Prasad, stressing for the need to make these technologies reach every corner of the country.
In fact, the Minister, once a student of a government Hindi medium school, understands the value of making these technologies available and learning opportunities accessible for the millions of schoolchildren from rural India.
“That is the India we have to focus on, that is the India we have to encourage, that is the India we have to empower,” stressed the Minister.
In recent years the country witnessed a remarkable transformation propelled by the government’s numerous digital initiatives under his leadership of the IT Ministry.
“The digital transformation, led by our leader Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, is changing India without any hiccups, which is a unique case study for the world,” noted the Minister. “We should use AI in a more focused manner for agriculture, healthcare, to education”, as “AI will enable us to explore more opportunities and address more challenges,” he added.
When it comes to the nation’s role in a global stage, Ravi Shankar Prasad, an adherent believer in the transformational power of technology, doesn’t want to limit India’s AI development to itself. “Indian companies should develop AI products for solving socio-economic problems, that can be replicated globally in other developing countries,” the Minister explained his vision for making India a leader and role model for other emerging economies.
According to the Minister, no technology has failed in India, from the early days of computers to modern-day smartphones, despite many of them facing opposition from many corners during its early days.
“I don’t have the slightest doubt, that AI is going to succeed extraordinarily in India,” the Minister expressed his confidence in the potential of AI. “We must explore the inclusive character of AI,” he added.
The best way to describe the significance of Ravi Shankar Prasad’s vision for India’s AI future is by borrowing Canadian AI researcher Tim Dutton’s words. In one of his articles published on the digital magazine Politics+AI, Dutton wrote that rest of countries should take note of India’s goal of “inclusive technology leadership.”
“AI can be used to increase productivity, competitiveness, and economic development, but it must also be used to enhance the ability of every person to actively and fully participate in all aspects of life that are meaningful to them,” noted Dutton, mirroring Ravi Shankar Prasd’s vision for an inclusive AI for India and the world.
About the author
Content and Research Lead, INDIAaiJibu Elias is the Content and Research Lead at INDIAai, currently lending his wide knowledge and keen insight into artificial intelligence for building a unified AI ecosystem in India. He specialises in ethical and legal implications of AI. He is an alumnus of the London School of Economics (LSE), where he studied International Relations, specialising in Sino-India relations.
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