Generation AI: It is India’s time to play chief disruptor

5 min read

As per Goldman Sachs, the right use of Generative AI can add around $7 trillion to the global GDP in the next decade. In a world faced with slowing economic growth, we must invest in technologies that aid growth and productivity, solve complex problems like climate change, and create a more inclusive society. However, this needs to be done with the right guard-rails.

India today has the opportunity to provide much-needed thought leadership globally on Generative AI. Our proven track record of creating inclusive technology for societal impact at scale, be it UPI for financial inclusion or Diksha for education, provides a framework to create open, interoperable and affordable platforms for services and products that can be scaled exponentially. Can we build on these learnings and envision it as a strategic inflection point for India to lead the world into an era of Augmented Intelligence? India sowed the seed for it when we designed our national AI strategy to enable AI for All in 2019. Since then, initiatives across government, industry and startups have focused on the inclusive and responsible adoption of AI.

India now needs to prioritize a comprehensive Generative AI strategy on top of its AI foundation to drive breakthrough productivity gains across all aspects of life, business and society. If leveraged right, we can embed a foundational layer of intelligence in every product, service and process, significantly boosting overall productivity. To achieve this, we recommend a four-pronged approach that brings together diverse stakeholders and is enabled by strong execution.

First, real competitive differentiation will be about talent and skills. While India ranks first in AI skills penetration as per the OECD, we need to move the narrative from AI talent to ‘Generation AI’. Can we unlock the full potential of India’s demographic dividend and its propensity to technology adoption by creating a generation of AI-literate citizens who know how to use it responsibly? For this, we recommend a tiered strategy:

For few: Aim to become the world leader in data and AI skills by training 1 million world-class AI professionals to meet global demand in areas such as Natural Language Processing, Large Language Models, responsible AI, and data fundamentals.

For many: Empower an 18-20 million workforce to use AI tools for enhanced productivity across sectors. Provide training in domain fundamentals, AI tool usage and responsible AI.

For all: India needs AI literate citizens who constitute an entire generation of AI users equipped with skills and capabilities to unlock its potential across all aspects of life. Provide education in AI application security, AI awareness and responsible AI.

Second, for innovation to thrive, we need to build the infrastructure needed for a globally competitive AI ecosystem. An AI boom depends on three things: large amounts of data, mega computing power to process it, and budgets to afford it. India must invest in building its capabilities, including:

Foundation models: Invest in the development and promotion of large trustworthy AI models that will address our language diversity and our cultural context.

Computing access: Set up a national GPU Cloud with at least Exaflop AI capacity and around 25,000 A100 GPUs or above. This could be done by the government in partnership with industry players by setting up such infrastructure under incentive programmes and recovering the running cost from users over, say, a 10-year period, with subsidized pricing for Indian academia and startups.

Special economic AI clusters: Create virtual AI clusters for core sectors like healthcare, agriculture, energy, manufacturing, defence, etc, to turbocharge innovation and product development. Each cluster could provide access to foundation models and the GPU cloud as well as access to patient capital, fast-track patent approvals, mentorship, and industry links.

Third, India should drive scalable adoption of AI across sectors. We should build a responsible AI stack with our know-how to accelerate adoption across core sectors. India should also set up a sand-box for responsible usage cases.

Lastly, we need a pro-innovation policy formulation that catalyses responsible and ethical AI usage and creation. India should develop a tailored approach that aligns existing laws, identifies gaps and establishes a governance framework to manage risk and foster innovation. This will help protect us against potential harm while driving our advancement and economic growth.

While the world worries about what AI could do, we believe India can and must show what AI should do as a force for good. With our young talent, tech know-how and a strong commitment to leverage technology as an equalizer, India must lead a global shift from Artificial Intelligence to Human–Centric Augmented Intelligence that is designed to make the world better.

Debjani Ghosh is president of Nasscom.

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Updated: 26 Jun 2023, 12:48 AM IST

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