21st Century is the golden era for technology. Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the many existing and proposed technology industries. Though AI is not a new concept as it was first coined in 1956, but in the last few decades, the industry saw exponential growth around the world. With the growth of AI, there is a need for democratizing this technology so as to increase the user base and to make people aware of it. “AI Democratization means the spread of artificial intelligence to a wider user base that includes those without specialized knowledge of AI”. It is going to change the way we live and work. Just like any other form of change or development. However, AI is going to bring with it some different kinds of challenges too. On one hand, the automation and use of AI are going to enhance economic development, while on the other it will pose a subsequent threat to employment for a lot of people. Therefore, it demands proper planning. Along with the introduction and implementation of better policies, the Indian policymakers should work on infrastructural development to tackle the challenges.
India is among the fastest-growing economies and thus it is going to play an important part in the growth, development, and democratization of AI around the world. Al is becoming popular in new industries where it was not used before such as agriculture where it can provide the farmers with real-time insights that can help in increasing productivity and in education where it can be used for differentiated learning. Al democratization also shows commitment towards addressing developmental and infrastructural difficulties by meeting society’s immediate needs for healthcare, education, and banking.
In this article, we shall discuss the democratization of AI, steps taken by the government, its impact on the community as a whole, and what is the way forward.
What is AI democratization and what is the need for it?
In laymen’s terms, the democratization of AI will mean making it more accessible to the public at large. As of now, only a handful of people who know how to handle and manage AI are in possession of this technology. It is a need of the hour to spread knowledge regarding AI among people so that everyone can benefit from it. AI democratization will have a positive impact on businesses as they would be able to amalgamate their day-to-day practices with AI which will boost productivity. One more reason to democratize AI is because of its ability to adapt to change and this is a quantum leap.
Steps taken by the government towards democratization of AI
The government of India over the years has taken some major steps for democratizing AI in the country. Launched in 2014, The Make in India and Digital India initiatives show a positive picture of the inclination of government towards the development of different technologies including AI. The 2018 Budget underlined the government’s intention to engage in research in new sectors such as Al and its democratization and robotics as part of a larger technological push for India’s digitalization. The government of India allocated $480 Million in 2018, to achieve the goal of AI democratization and growth in the country. NITI Aayog, a Government of India, policy think tank, was given a task to conduct research and development in many different areas and other new-age technologies with a focus on the amalgamation of AI in different sectors.
In 2019, NITI Aayog in its report titled, National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, suggested that a national plan should be formulated which will cater to the unique requirements of India. Also. the New Education Policy 2020 focused clearly on AI and its amalgamation with education. With this, it is proposed that students be taught coding, digital technology at a very young age and AI will be introduced in undergraduate courses so that the students can have a better understanding of the practical aspects of AI. The youth population in any country is its greatest asset and the quality of education it receives plays an important role in the growth of the country. All these steps taken over the past 7 years suggest that the government is eager to amalgamate AI into the daily routine of the Indian people.
Impact of democratization of AI
As discussed above, the democratization of AI simply means that the technology would be accessible to a lot of people, even to those who do not have prior knowledge of it. This would help more people have access to new technology. This access would lead to more innovations that help a country grow. But on the other side, this accessibility can also cause problems because at the end of the day, even though technology has grown so much over the years there is no substitute for human intelligence. Niti Aayog and the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare Government (MoHFW) of India have been working extensively on the amalgamation of AI and healthcare. In 2019, MoHFW came up with the National health blueprint 2019, which provided for a Health locker that will help the government in creating a personal health record for every individual, a separate platform for claims and coverage, a National health analytics platform, and a unique digital health ID for each citizen. Each of these, when implemented will provide a boost to the health infrastructure of the country. Again, in May 2019, the government issued funding of ₹ 7500 crores for a period of 3 years, for the development of a cloud computer named, AIRAWAT which will provide an infrastructure for the advancement and growth of AI in the country. In October 2020 NVIDIA, a chipmaker announced that the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing will be working on commissioning India’s fastest supercomputer PARAMSIDDHI. Our country is going leaps and bound in its endeavor to grow AI. In December 2020, the Country’s first AI community center was established in Hyderabad with the aim to give the knowledge of AI to the masses free of cost. In the first year, it will cater to as many as 350 students.
Although AI democratization seems to help society develop, there are certain negative aspects of it that need to be discussed. Firstly, if AI is democratized it can be used by hackers which poses a great threat to the internal security of the country.
Al’s revolutionary potential stems from its capacity to be used to a wide range of applications across a wide range of sectors. Al-based applications may be found in manufacturing, where they change quality control, production lines, and supply chain management, as well as in services, where they produce personalized product offers and high-quality client contact. Also, if a novice, creates an AI program, there are high chances that this program can be biased or it can be risky to the stakeholder. AI should be handled with utmost care so as to negate the risks and get the maximum out of it.
Advantages of democratization of AI
With the help of AI, a new component i.e., technological advancement is added to the conventional factors of production namely labour, capital, and innovation.
In terms of economic development, AI has the ability to boost growth by enabling:
- Its Dynamic approach, which means that AI has an ability to change itself according to the existing situation/circumstances which helps in getting better results.
- It will help in Innovation diffusion which means launching developments as they diffuse. All sectors in the value chain are connected with each other which implies that developing Al advancements in one area will have a positive impact on the other. AI will help in the production of new goods and services which will help in economic development.
The Covid Pandemic proved that a lot needs to be done in the field of healthcare in India in terms of quality, accessibility, affordability etc., and AI can help a lot in this transition.
Considering the pros and the cons, it can be said that if dealt with precaution and care, this democratization can prove to be very advantageous. In the recent COVID pandemic, the data that was collected such as number of patients, number of recoveries, number of beds, etc., were made available to the public at large which helped the government as well as the individual organizations to come forward and help the needy. The democratization of AI will give individuals and industries a chance to try their hand at AI and to come up with ideas/tools that can benefit society. Also, if the technology is available to users at a wide scale, then the overall cost of implementation of the said technology becomes less as people themselves start learning the new technology and can start their own experiments. Also, the overall adoption of AI will become fast as it would be available to the public at large. AI democratization is a process that will take some time to be implemented because, at the onset, only those people who are specialized in AI should work with it so as to avoid the mistakes, and then gradually it should be made accessible to the public.
Conclusion and Suggestions
In the past year, it has become evident that there are many areas such as healthcare, education, where special attention is required and AI democratization can be used to solve these problems as discussed in the article. If the same run-of-the-mill method is used, then achieving the goals of quality education or healthcare will take a considerable amount of time and that is why the transition to AI is important so that one can have an alternative approach towards this problem. Also, India is a country that has a very wide scope for the development of AI as there are many sectors that are untouched by the latest technology, and bringing those sectors under the ambit of AI development is going to create a lot of new job opportunities.
Even though AI democratization is going to be advantageous for society, it also has drawbacks, a few being that it’ll increase unemployment, it will pose a cybersecurity threat. These drawbacks make it important for policymakers to keep an eye on both sides of the coin and then make policies for the benefit of the community. Also, one of the major requirements for the development of AI in the country is the development of infrastructure to support this technology. Once all the things required for AI development fall into place India is going to emerge as a leader in AI development.
The next post on “Democratization of AI in India” shall discuss the optimum market for AI in India, given the current legislation.
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