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Colloquium explores the need, scope, and future of AI in India

Image credit: iitmadras; Twitter

The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-Madras) Robert Bosch Centre for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (RBC DSAI) hosted a colloquium on AI in India, earlier this week.

The event brought together leading researchers, academics, policymakers, and industry leaders from across the country to understand and deliberate on the state of research and innovation in AI and machine learning in India. Key areas of discussion included the development of potential programmes for the Indian AI ecosystem.

The colloquium was anchored by RBC DSAI, IIT Madras, and a research and digital, non-profit organisation that studies the evolution of technology domains in the country.

A representative of the organisation said that AI is an important technology driving global economic growth in Industry 4.0, and in which India should develop national capability and global leadership. This is essential to meet its target of reaching US $5 trillion economy in the next five years.

The organisation has published a first-of-its-kind report on the landscape of AI research in India. It sets the agenda for how we can build a strong capability in AI.

The objective of the colloquium was to create a platform to facilitate meaningful dialogue among researchers, industry, and policymakers.

The themes of the roundtables were chosen to reflect the key challenges that need to be addressed for the wider adoption of AI, particularly in India. The deliberations in the colloquium will lead to greater awareness of these issues, and hopefully, result in more sustained dialogues between the different stakeholders in evolving India’s AI policies.

During the event, an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) was also signed between IIT Madras and the digital organisation to collaborate around AI and ethics. The key objective of the agreement was to bring together global academic researchers, policy makers, and industry leaders to understand the relevance and implications of ethical considerations in Indian AI implementations.

AI is an emerging focus area of policy development in India. In 2018, the Indian government defined a national policy on AI in a discussion paper, the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence #AIforAll.”

It was released by the country’s policy commission, NITI Aayog. The paper identified five key areas where AI development could enable both growth and greater inclusion: healthcare, agriculture, education, urban-/smart-city infrastructure, and transportation and mobility.

It also covered five obstacles to AI growth: lack of research expertise, absence of enabling data ecosystems, high resource cost and low awareness for adoption, lack of regulations around privacy and security, and absence of a collaborative approach to adoption and applications.

The paper proposed a two-tiered framework for promoting AI research. This included the creation of Centres of Research Excellence in AI (COREs), which will be academic research hubs, and International Centres for Transformational Artificial Intelligence, which will be industry-led.

NITI Aayog suggests several recommendations but is positioned as merely an “essential pre-read” intended to begin the conversation for what will be an evolving National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence.

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