NITI Aayog, Intel and TIFR collaborate to set up a Model International Center for Transformative AI (ICTAI)

Aiming to solve major challenges in India, the center will focus on application-based AI research in healthcare, agriculture, and smart mobility

NITI Aayog, Intel, and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) announced on 7th September that they are collaborating to set up a Model International Center for Transformative Artificial Intelligence (ICTAI) towards developing and deploying AI-led application-based research projects. This initiative is part of NITI Aayog’s ‘National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence’ Discussion Paper that focuses on establishing ICTAI in the country through private sector collaboration.

Aims of ICTAI:

Based in Bengaluru, the Model ICTAI aims to conduct advanced research to incubate AI-led solutions in three important areas – healthcare, agriculture, and smart mobility – by bringing together the expertise of Intel and TIFR.

It aims to experiment, discover and establish best practices in the domains of ICTAI governance, fundamental research, physical infrastructure, computer and service infrastructure needs, and talent acquisition.

Through this collaborative effort, the model ICTAI is chartered to develop AI foundational frameworks, tools, and assets, including curated datasets and unique AI algorithms.

The intent is to develop standards and support policy development related to information technology such as data storage, information security, privacy, and ethics for data capture and use.

The model Centre also plans to develop AI foundational technologies to promote applied research that can scale for national impact and will lead to the creation of a vibrant and self-sustaining ecosystem.

Another key area of its focus will be a collaboration with industry leaders, startups, and AI services and product companies to productize technologies and IP that are developed at the model ICTAI. And finally, the goal is to support skilling and talent development for world-class AI talent.

The learning and best practices developed through this model ICTAI will be used by NITI Aayog to set up the future ICTAIs across the country.

What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

Artificial Intelligence comes from computer systems that have been programmed to — or have learned to — do tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence. Many apps and software are already making mundane work easier by doing a certain part of it for us, based on acquired intelligence.

Automation threatens 69% of the jobs in India, while it’s 77% in China, according to World Bank research. The transition is expected to happen in a decade, according to experts. Therefore, if automation is not planned well and addressed holistically, it is a disaster in the making.

While there is a risk to jobs due to these trends, the good news is that a huge number of new jobs are getting created as well in areas like cybersecurity, cloud, big data, machine learning, and AI. The new job roles that will dominate the IT workforce are within digital domains such as big data, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and cybersecurity. It is clearly a time of career pivot for IT professionals to make sure they are where the growth is.

The Union ministry of electronics and information technology, in October 2017, set up an internal committee to advise the government on a policy on artificial intelligence (AI). The expert committee will advise the IT ministry on the aptest technologies for India. The government’s main focus is to reduce cyber attacks with AI.

The artificial intelligence market is estimated to touch $153 billion in 2020 and expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 45.4% from 2016 to 2022. However, AI is widely seen as a major challenge in the generation of employment as many companies are likely to depend more on it to cut down on human resources.

Globally too, there is a growing interest in AI. In 2016, the White House initiated work on Preparing for the future of artificial intelligence; in the UK, the House of Commons committee on S&T looked at robotics and artificial intelligence while in 2017, the State Council of China started work on the next generation artificial intelligence development plan.

The government has recently drawn up a seven-point strategy that would form the framework for India’s strategic plan to use AI.

The strategy includes developing methods for human-machine interactions; ensuring safety and security of AI systems; creating a competent workforce in line with AI and R&D needs, understanding and addressing the ethical, legal and societal implications of AI, measuring and evaluating AI technologies through standards and benchmarks, among others.

AI is a complex subject; it would be simplistic to look at it as all bad or all good. But robots and AI taking away middle-class, manufacturing jobs in the not-so-distant future is a very real prospect that will have to be addressed by governments sooner than they probably think.

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