India will play a big role in AI revolution: Microsoft

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Microsoft sees India as a nation ready to embrace AI technology and play an important role in the development of the same, said Microsoft’s Indian President, Anant Maheshwari. The statement came when Maheshwari was addressing media and analysts at Microsoft R&D Centre in Bangalore.

India is already listed as the third country among other countries with AI skill sets.  “India is at a unique position to play a great role in this revolution,” said Maheshwari explaining how the world is coming together in terms of tools, data, and the cloud, the key ingredients of AI technology.

“As of now, only 8 percent of GDP is affected by digital technologies. But this number will be 60 percent in 2021,” he said adding how the large population in India is helping the country generate data on a larger scale.

Maheshwari said the tech intensity of companies is driving the next wave of innovation for India. This means how the country is able to combine the adoption of cutting-edge tech with their company’s own distinctive tech and business capabilities.

“We believe AI will enable Indian businesses and more for India’s progress, especially in education, skilling, healthcare, and agriculture. Microsoft also believes that it is imperative to build higher awareness and capabilities on security, privacy, trust, and accountability. The power of AI is just beginning to be realized and can be a game-changer for India,” added Maheshwari.

According to Microsft, the company is fueling “digital transformation” in 700 Indian companies with the help of Microsoft AI. 60 percent of these 700 companies are large manufacturing and financial services enterprises.

“The world is a computer today… everyone is generating data. The whole computing fabric of the world is continuous.” The world produces about 16 Zettabytes of data per year.

“But when we all start asking what we would like to predict, the range of what is possible with Artificial Intelligence will explode”, said Maheshwari with a sense of optimism.

AI-driven technologies are bringing down the cost of predicting something like never before. “That power is now in the hands of a lot of people and this is what will drive the tech industry,” he added. “This is not futuristic, but happening right now.”

Sundar Srinivas, Microsoft’s GM for AI, on the other hand, gave his own opinion about AI. “It not what we can do with AI, but what we should do or what we should not,” he said, expressing a need for setting ethics and principle for AI.

Talking about the breakthroughs in AI, Srinivas said the success in speech recognition and comprehension and vision test is at par with human capabilities. This means the AI is now as good as humans in terms of some cognitive skills and the way AI is conceived, it will only get better.

This could also result in a large demand for reskilling as it is estimated that 40-percent of employees will soon be working on skills they don’t possess at the moment, according to  Rohini Srivastava, National Technology Officer of Microsoft India. Microsoft is looking forward to setting up AI labs in 10 universities and training 500,000 youth across the country. The company will also upskill 10,000 developers over the next three years.

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