Is Lack of Talent Killing The Great Indian Dream To Be The Greatest Innovators in Emerging Technologies
Is India Ready To Lead the AI Era for the world? Here’s More
As Artificial Intelligence spearheads the new chapter and permeates deeper into our routine, the global market is anticipated to surpass 735 billion USD by the end of 2018. Redefining productivity, the conventional methods of routine activities are being replaced with interesting AI use cases such as Image Recognition, Object Identification, and Detection.
Thus, with billions of dollars on stake, Robotics is emerging out of the fascination into the real world with a swathe of enthusiastic developers plunging at the challenge; it is an exciting course to witness. But how ready are we? Emerging economies, especially India, are swaying amidst the zest to make it big and the struggle to prepare on-demand resources, and there’s much more to blame, learn and act upon.
Commenting on India’s readiness for AI, Kumar T, an AI expert, says “Undoubtedly there is a lot of enthusiasm surrounding the emerging technologies like AI in India and it is reported that there over 200 AI based startups here. However, AI adoption faces two major roadblocks in India, one is the issue of lack of talent because the majority of the Indian workforce, the youth, are grossly underskilled in next-generation technologies. Second, to get the most out of AI, there needs to be digital data that is easy to navigate through, although there is a huge drive for a digital revolution, the vast majority of services in India utilizes a paper-based system which greatly limits AI’s capability”
The Story of India –Leaders at Consuming but not Developing
Even though AI apps are all around us, thanks to the compulsive adoption by the masses, we haven’t built them out extensively. The lack of right talent and the difficulty in finding it when needed, is a harsh reality, and 48% agree to it hands down, as per the Manpower group survey conducted two years ago.
While the situation hasn’t ameliorated, the International Labour Organization has warned India against an increased unemployment rate to 18.6 million for 2018.
Each one of us, in the academic and the industrial spectrum, is aware of the lack of skills in the field of emerging technologies, then what is it that’s intensifying the talent crunch here? Going back to the academics where it all begins, India continues to struggle with the upgradation of its syllabus. Add to it, lack of academic will in the campuses for additional courses is only embarrassing us more. Although, the IITs and a few other institutions have proven expertise in the AI and ML space, the case with the other 3500 engineering colleges is utterly contrasting.
Does that indicate the end for us? In fact, No!
Something is working in India’s favor – strongly rooted tech hub and the explosive startup wave
According to a recent LinkedIn report on the future of Digital Workforce, the world is aggressively testing AI applications while India stays the hot favorite for the most exciting innovations. As markets evolve rapidly, employers prefer a workforce acquiring hybrid skills within the organization rather than recruiting more people.
Going forward, organizations based out of India, both public and private, have joined the bandwagon
DiscoveryIoT, the pioneer of communication solutions for the Supply Chain markets, is fostering learning initiatives in upcoming technologies such as Backscatter, Blockchain, ML and the IoT. Their independent research arm, ‘Discovery Labs’ is introducing training programs for students and aims to provide seamless access to practical exposure to such disruptive technologies. Targeting startups, venture capitalists and large enterprises exploring innovative possibilities in the space, the program aims at bringing together the academic and the industrial communities. Working on a partnership model, the company is extending infrastructure support across campuses and is conducting a swathe of conferences, talks, and classroom sessions, aiming to generate interest for upcoming technologies in the young minds.
While the understanding of the Blockchain technology and its hybrid impacts with others in line is far from mainstream, Discovery Labs aims at combating these inconsistencies and producing a future ready technology manpower.
Google and Microsoft are exclusively working towards empowering India’s AI ecosystem, and the initiatives are the silver lining.
Google has been successfully conducting in-house training programs in ML for 17000 engineers recruited between 2012 and 2017! The internet giant isn’t shying away from placing bets upon the second largest country of application developers and is looking forward to associate with nano-degree training partners such as Udacity and Pluralsight as confirmed by William Florance, Skilling Lead for Google India. However, the most successful apps aren’t conceived in India, and that’s the gap 1.3 lakh scholarships in emerging technologies will close by rewarding Indian developers.
On a parallel roadmap, Microsoft’s ambitious application will predict crop yields for farmers. Moreover, the company is educating its Azure developers in India to hone skills in ML and other upcoming landscapes such as the Internet of Things (IoT). Not as extensive as Google, the company is taking baby steps towards extending training tools for enterprise application developers. Starting with India’s Ola Cabs, the company is experimenting with several AI deployments to upgrade the experience of Taxi riding and driving.
Not to miss out on Intel, leader in chip-making, has rolled out as many as 60 courses as a part of the ‘AI Developer Education Program’, followed by training more than 10,000 developers and scientists in India to introduce evolutionary algorithms using in-house platforms and tools. As per the company, AI will cause the greatest workload in data centers by 2020.
The Government of India is contemplating to form more Centers of Excellence in ML
In order to produce high quality workforce, the Niti Aayog has underscored its mission– launch more research and development programs for emerging technologies like AI, Big Data, Blockchain and others. Led by Amitabh Kant, the committee has a razor sharp focus on strengthening the AI acceptance amongst students, developers, and researchers on a larger scale.
The former Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, envisioned the acceleration of development in the fields of IT and hardware , and thus formed an AI Task Force in 2017 to unlatch groundbreaking possibilities in economic reforms. Comprising of researchers, academics, and industry experts, the team led by IIT Madras’ Dr. V kamakoti has submitted a report to the RM (Defence Ministry) stating AI’s transformative impact on National Security. On the other hand,
What’s Ahead? Embracing change for a better future
According to Accenture’s recent report, India could add 957 Billion USD to its GDP by 2035 by embracing AI, as thought converts to reality. In 2016, 2.6 million graduates entered the market with in hand STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) skills – the founding pillars of AI. However, their relatively lower practical exposure keeps us at large from realizing the big Indian AI dream, and that’s where we need to shift our focus.