Can Niti Aayog initiative on Artificial Intelligence disrupt industries?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to disrupt verticals such as healthcare, agriculture, education, smart cities & infrastructure and smart mobility & transportation in providing quality services to end consumers both in India as well as globally

The Niti Aayog discussion paper on Artificial Intelligence focuses on how India can leverage AI technologies to ensure social and inclusive growth in line with the development philosophy of the government. In addition, India would strive to deploy these solutions in different industry verticals and these solutions can be replicated in other similarly placed developing countries in Asia and Africa thereby limiting the market not only to India but other countries.

AI is aiming at enhancing and empowering human capabilities to address the challenges of access, affordability, shortage and inconsistency of skilled expertise. From an applications perspective, the approach is to identify sectors that may have the potential of greatest externalities while adopting AI solutions, and hence require the government to play a leading role in developing the implementation roadmap for AI.

NITI Aayog has decided to focus on five sectors that are envisioned to benefit the most from AI in solving societal needs but this needs to be enhanced to include other verticals.

  • Healthcare: Increased access and affordability of quality healthcare
  • Agriculture: Enhanced farmers’ income, increased farm productivity and reduction of wastage
  • Education: Improved access and quality of education
  • Smart Cities and Infrastructure: Efficient and connectivity for the burgeoning urban population
  • Smart Mobility and Transportation: Smarter and safer modes of transportation and better traffic and congestion problems

For deploying AI at a large scale, the NITI report identifies the following barriers: Lack of broad based expertise in research and application of AI; Absence of enabling data ecosystems – access to intelligent data; High resource cost and low awareness for adoption of AI; Privacy and security, including a lack of formal regulations around anonymization of data; and Absence of collaborative approach to adoption and application of AI.

For research aspirations, the AI centres need to tie up with India’s premier educational institute for both core based research and application based research.

There has been tremendous activity concerning AI policy in different countries over the past couple of years. Governments in USA, UK, France, Japan and China have released their policy and strategy papers relating to AI. China and U.K. estimate that 26% and 10% of their GDPs respectively in 2030 will be sourced from AI-related activities and businesses. With many industries aggressively investing in cognitive and AI solutions, global investments are forecast to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 50.1% to reach $57.6 billion in 2021.

Adoption of AI across the value chain viz. startups, private sector, PSUs and government entities, will truly unlock the potential by creating a virtuous cycle of supply and demand. The barriers to AI development and deployment can effectively be addressed by adopting the marketplace model – one that enables market discovery of not only the price but also of different approaches that are best suited to achieve the desired results. A three-pronged, formal marketplace could be created focusing on data collection and aggregation, data annotation and deployable models. There could be a common platform called the National AI Marketplace (NAIM).

Furthermore, for accelerated adoption of a highly collaborative technology like AI, the government has to play the critical role of a catalyst in supporting partnerships, providing access to infrastructure, fostering innovation through research and creating the demand by seeking solutions for addressing various governmental needs.