AI has, according to an Accenture analysis in 2017, the potential to add $957 billion or 15 per cent of the then gross value added, to India’s economy in 2035, compared to a scenario without AI. However, to avoid missing this opportunity, policy makers and business leaders must prepare for, and work toward, an AI revolution, it said. It recommends an innovative private sector, with a supportive policy and regulatory framework.
The Union government’s Budget for 2018-19, mandated the NITI Aayog to establish a national programme on AI, aimed to guide research and development in new and emerging technologies. Last June, the Aayog issued a report on a national strategy for the sector.
In the interim Budget announced this February, it was announced that the government would launch a national programme. This was to be catalysed by the establishment of a National Centre on AI as a hub, along with Centres of Excellence. Nine priority areas were identified and plans to develop a National AI portal announced.
NITI Aayog says AI could address societal needs in five sectors – for affordable access to quality health care, enhanced farmers' income and increased farm productivity, improved access and quality of education, connectivity for the growing urban population, and smart mobility and transportation. It also identified lack of expertiese in research and application of AI and the absence of enabling data eco-systems such as access to intelligent data, privacy and security.
Apart from funding, a major challenge is the availability of adequate skiled personnel, say experts from the education sector. The All India Council for Technical Education has added AI, the Internet of Things and Machine Learning among mandatory studies in some of the higher education programmes. Increased demand for products and services can attract more investment towards research and development, says iNurture Educatiion Solutions, a Bengaluru-based company working on enabling career-ready formal higher education.