Government think tank Niti Aayog’s outgoing chief executive Amitabh Kant on Tuesday said the country lags in artificial intelligence research activities, and also needs to elevate its supercomputing capabilities to those possessed by China.
Speaking at an Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) event virtually, Kant said Niti Aayog had come out with a strategy paper on AI in 2018 itself, making India among the first countries to look at using the emerging technologies for social good. However, some challenges mentioned in the AI document continue to be pertinent, he said.
“We lag behind in terms of core and applied research,” Kant said, adding that in high quality research, India still trails behind US and China and will have to take efforts to catch up. “Our supercomputing capabilities must be brought in the same league as China,” the career bureaucrat, who will retire from the think tank after spending over six years at the helm, said.
On supercomputing, he said that the latest supercomputer was installed at Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science earlier this year. As the country goes ahead with using AI for various use cases, we will have to pay attention to critical areas of concern like privacy and ethics, Kant said. Pressing for adoption of AI across all sectors, Kant said the Niti Aayog document in 2018 had marked out agriculture, smart mobility, healthcare as among the areas where AI can benefit.
He said all the stakeholders have to come together to develop the technologies, but ultimately the market dynamics will decide which ones become popular. Welcoming the progress done in the private sector so far, Kant said he is pleased to note that AI is no longer a fringe technology. India will also have to pay attention towards human capital as it goes ahead on AI research and adoption, Kant said, adding that the efforts should include skilling for students and also re-skilling efforts for professionals.