Summary – The Hindu – AI superpower or client nation.
Author: Parminder Jeet Singh
Google’s CEO compares AI (artificial intelligence) with fire and electricity in terms of their role in human civilisation.
AI systems are set to transform our economic, social and political organisation.
How AI works:
Unlike most industrial technologies, AI does not develop in laboratories and then get applied by businesses. AI develops within business processes, as data are mined from digital platforms, and turned into intelligence, which is ploughed back to produce more data and intelligence, in infinite loops. Any country’s AI therefore largely exists within its huge, domestically owned commercial digital/data systems. In the U.S. it is with Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft — and in China with Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.
Threats AI poses:
Intelligent systems typically tend to centralise and monopolise control. AI economy may radically concentrate income and wealth in the hands of a few. Globally, just one or two concentrations of AI power may rule the world. Currently, these are in the U.S. and China.
India has no such large domestically owned commercial data systems. Soon, Walmart (after its takeover of Flipkart) and Amazon will own between them perhaps the most significant set of India’s consumer-behavioural and other economic data, over which they will develop various kinds of AI. In time, such AI will allow them to control practically everything, and every actor, along various economic value chains linked to consumer goods. A big nation like India is rapidly becoming a client country for AI, whether as ready users of AI applications in different areas, or by offering out-sourced R&D for global digital/AI corporations through start-ups existentially eager to be bought out.
Cultural, Political and Economic Affects
Beyond economic dominance, AI is as much about cultural, political and military power. Russian President Vladimir Putin claims that whoever rules AI will rule the world. A non-AI military against an AI-powered one will be like a hapless infantry unit facing an armoured division. Google and Microsoft are partnering with U.S. military on AI applications, and China’s companies even more closely so with its military.
How India should approach AI
Data-based sectoral platforms, like in e-commerce, urban transport, agriculture, health, education, etc., should largely be domestic. India has a right to provide such domestic protection through policy, especially if India begins to treat its collective social/economic data as a strategic national asset, as our mineral resources are. Such policy protection alone will ensure that we have large-scale data-driven Indian companies able to develop the highest AI in every sector, by employing huge Indian data to solve (equally huge) Indian problems. Once enough AI proficiency and strength has been developed domestically, it should then be used to go global. India must utilize its great advantages of high IT capabilities and a big domestic market required for data harvesting.
Read the full article The Hindu.
Categories: POINT IAS