Amid growing concerns regarding the loss of jobs from increasing adoption of the Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Obama administration has just released a report on its future directions and considerations. This report surveys the current state of AI, its existing and potential applications, and the questions that progress in AI raise for society and public policy in America.
At present there are many questions in front of policymakers: How AI can be used to improve governance? How can it be used to increase public good? How can the regulations be made for this fledgling technology without stifling the sector? It’s not certain how the technology with impact job sector. It may shrink lower-end jobs and And above all, there is a great concern on the ethics surrounding the technology itself.
Governments are concerned about the loss of jobs too. It is believed that the adoption of AI in large numbers by the industry will greatly reduce the jobs at the lower end. While many more high-end jobs may be created, nobody is sure. If that happens, it would require that more people are trained for such jobs. This would require planning and investment. Not just on the government’s part. Parents would also need to nudge their kids to learn programming.
Programming would assume importance almost equal, if not more than conventional subjects like Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. Learning coding languages will be as important as learning a spoken language. “Computer” subject cannot continue to be just an elective in schools. Curriculum needs updating, the sooner the better.
Where does India stand? Shashi Shekhar Vempati, a digital strategist and public policy commentator writes that spurring AI-based innovation and establishing AI-ready infrastructure are ‘necessary to prepare India’s jobs and skills markets for an AI-based future and to secure its strategic interests.’
He recommends that Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to make AI a critical component of his pet schemes such as Make in India, Skill India, and Digital India programs by offering incentives for manufacturers, creating regional innovation clusters for manufacturing automation and robotics in partnership with universities and start-ups, incorporating market-based mechanisms.
So should India embrace AI in governance? How would it help?
Guarav Agrawal argues in this Swarajya column that AI is our answer to capacity building. Right now, it’s almost impossible to know if we have toilets on the ground or just on paper. We don’t know if the government functionary who is supposed to upload photos is doing so sitting in office or at the site. AI can process crores of photos and generate an alert whenever the photograph is not that of an entirely built toilet or if same beneficiary in multiple photos and so on.
Agrawal gives another example. Under the crop insurance scheme, the current process to trigger an insurance payout to the farmer lacks reliability, accuracy and speed. To overcome this, mobile app solutions could be developed where geo-tagged photographs of the crop cutting experiment can be uploaded. AI can check these millions of photos to see whether an actual crop cutting experiment has been carried out by the same person who was supposed to carry it out.
Many of such problems can be tackled by the adoption of AI.
It’s time the government came up with a exhaustive framework regarding the AI. Other countries have already started the process. We cannot afford to be left behind.