The Age of Artificial Intelligence

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The Age of Artificial Intelligence

Thursday, 14 January 2021 | Dr Banshidhar Rukhaiyar

The future of nations depends upon the expertise and marvel they achieve in the field of Artificial Intelligence. It would decide the future of universities, healthcare system, defence and almost all activities of our day to day life. Countries like India are lagging behind in this critical field as we have not realized its importance as yet and consequently we have not made any meaningful and substantial effort and investment in it. Our lifestyle would completely change in twenty five years from now and it would affect every aspect of our political and economic life.

India has a large number of young population and they should be taught Artificial Intelligence (AI) from school level itself. It is really good that the New Education Policy has introduced coding in the curriculum of students at school level itself. There should be no further delay in implementing it. It is also very good that the teaching and learning of Sanskrit language has been emphasized in NEP as Sanskrit is the most computer friendly language and is the most important tool for the development of AI. We all know that computational linguistics is based on Panini grammar. Our professors of Sanskrit teach the intricacies of Panini grammar to tech professionals of foreign countries and they use it to develop software related to AI. The TCS and other Indian companies employ thousands of Indian engineers who work for foreign companies and the end product comes to us under a foreign brand at a phenomenally high price.

The future of our military strength will depend upon our proficiency in AI as a large number of fighter planes, helicopters etc. will be pilotless and hence AI driven. The Japanese government has passed a huge defence budget a few days ago for the development of pilotless bombers and other AI driven defence gadgets that will be deployed by 2035. It would enable Japan to take care of the Chinese ships which keep violating the Japanese waters. Japan cannot take action against Chinese ships right now for the fear of losing the lives of defence personnel, even though it has sufficient capability to attack them.

The need of the hour, therefore, is to heavily invest in research and development of AI. Our business tycoons like the Tatas and Ambanis should invest in research and development of AI and they should develop their own technology and its ecosystem. Earning money and providing employment is good, but that caters to the present interest only. The Govt. of India should establish a separate organization on the lines of ISRO for this purpose. Public as well as private investment will transform our landscape in research in AI, We have potential to do so. What is needed is the desire and commitment to do so. This is difficult as it would disrupt the existing structure of business, economy and defence. Our social and political organization won’t be left untouched either. Technology leads to disruption and so would AI. But technology is inevitable and it is not a matter of choice.

It is our drawback that there is no tie up between our universities and industries and they do not understand the requirements of each other. As a result, universities go on teaching a curriculum which is not in demand in the employment market. Industries, on their part, do not realize that they need to invest in universities so that they could take up expensive research projects and modernize their courses. This would enrich the supply line of trained professionals cutting the cost of their hiring. Similarly, there is no alliance between the Armed Forces and industries which would have led to advanced research in AI and Machine Learning. It is high time that we realize the importance of such alliances for the development of new technology of AI which is going to be the engine of growth of our life in coming decades.

The future wars and their outcome will not be decided only by the personal valour of soldiers and strategic superiority of commanders but largely by AI driven bombers for the nations cannot afford the loss of lives. The dynamics of war has changed and wars have to be fought with minimal casualty. The democratic nations cannot bear the burden of loss of lives in elections. Developed nations also cannot afford such casualties. Also, there is nothing like natural boundaries as no part of the earth is impregnable. So, AI driven modern defence warfare systems are a necessity.

AI has the capacity to model the mind of human race. Big Data and algorithmic calculations based on it give us one of the best solutions of a given problem. It provides 10 to the power 18 mathematical computing operations per second, which is simply mind boggling. It would further improve with advances in AI. America and China are way ahead in AI and Machine Learning and they have a distinct advantage over others. They might emerge as new colonizers due to this advantage.

The public opinion must be built up in favour of AI. Public opinion is necessary as it would snatch some jobs immediately, though it would be highly useful in the long run. Political parties will have to show courage for taking such decisions which are not so correct politically, particularly in a populous country like India. But then, when China can do it, why can't we?

The author is the Registrar of Vinoba Bhave University in Hazaribag. The views expressed by the author are his own.

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