IT ministry pushes for AI boost in India
The project, estimated to cost about Rs 2,000 crore, will include setting up a Centre of Excellence for artificial intelligence and benefits to encourage AI startups.Updated: Oct 20, 2020, 03:07 IST
The ministry of electronics and information technology is in the process of sending to the Cabinet a proposal to set up a National Mission for Artificial Intelligence to boost the use of AI in India, HT has learnt. The mission will include government projects that will be rolled out across departments and ministries, officials familiar with the matter said.
The project is estimated to cost about Rs 2,000 crore, but the size of the investment is yet to be finalised.
“This has been going on for many months, we are still deliberating the details of how exactly to do it but we will be approaching the Cabinet soon,” an official familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity. “This will include AI projects that benefit startups and maximise the use of the technology in India.”
It will also include setting up a Centre of Excellence for artificial intelligence and benefits to encourage AI startups.
“There will be moonshot projects and fundamental research projects,” a second official said, also requesting anonymity. “India has data which is the fuel for artificial intelligence. Google and Amazon are thriving on it.”
The official added that the two tech giants use natural language processing to assess people’s needs.
“They seamlessly pick up languages, say for example Bhojpuri, and respond to the data; we should also be able to do that,” the official added.
Once it comes to fruition, the project will then focus on analysing data needs and responding accordingly for people across India. The note to sent to the cabinet is under circulation at MEITY and is in the process of being finalised soon.
The ministry of electronics and information technology will collaborate with the private sector, academia and think tanks to develop AI-based products. The ministry has already held a five-day conference, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Responsible Artificial Intelligence for Social Empowerment (RAISE) last week. The ministry is increasingly focusing on the use of AI and how it can benefit society.
“AI is basically an amalgamation of software and algorithms. The products we create will be able to compete globally,” the official added.
Amba Kak, director of global policy and programs at AI Now Institute at New York University, believes that the push sounds similar to the rhetoric surrounding AI across the world.
“We are seeing a wave of government promotion of AI, Europe has just recently put out a strategy paper on the same,” said Kak.
“There is an industry push behind governments wanting to use more AI, as governments are the biggest customers of software such as facial recognition. We should not be on a predetermined path, data driven technology needs a proper assessment,” she said
“The government should ground its AI strategy in evidence of the social and environmental impacts of these technologies, whether they will work in contexts of limited infrastructure, and which communities are likely to benefit more or bear the risk of bias, exclusion and other harms,” Kak added.