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UPSC Civils Daily Mains Question 4th April 2020

What is Artificial Intelligence? Discuss NITI AAYOG report on National Strategy on AI. Mention various applications and challenges of AI.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is with intelligent machines enabling high-level cognitive processes like thinking, perceiving, learning, problem solving and decision making, coupled with advances in data collection and aggregation, analytics and computer processing power. AI presents opportunities to complement and supplement human intelligence and enrich the way people live and work.

The NITI Aayog released a report on National Strategy on AI which underlines the importance of AI in transforming every sector of the economy and how India is going to harness its potential for public welfare.

National Strategy on Artificial Intelligence 

Key Highlights:

NITI Aayog has decided to focus on five sectors that are envisioned to benefit the most from AI (in solving societal needs):

Healthcare: Increased access and affordability of quality healthcare.

In Medicine from detecting skin cancer and analyzing X-rays and MRI scans to providing personalized health tips and managing entire healthcare systems, artificial intelligence is becoming a key enabler in healthcare and medicine.

Agriculture Sector: AI can be used to predict advisories for sowing, pest control, input control which ensure increased income and providing stability for the agricultural community. Image classification tools combined with remote and local sensed data can bring a revolutionary change in utilization farm machinery, in areas of weed removal, early disease identification, produce harvesting and grading.

Education Sector: AI can make some of the educational processes automated such as grading, rewarding marks etc. therefore giving educators more time. Further, it can assess students and adapt to their needs, helping them work at their own pace. AI may change where and how students learn, perhaps even replacing some teachers.

Smart Cities and Infrastructure: Use of AI to monitor patronage and accordingly control associated systems such as pavement lighting, park maintenance and other operational conditions could lead to cost savings while also improving safety and accessibility.

Smart mobility and transportation: AI is used in Autonomous trucking, Intelligent Transportation Systems, Travel route/flow optimization, Community Based Parking

Applications of AI in various other sectors:

Self-driving Cars: Advances in artificial intelligence have brought us very close to making the decades-long dream of autonomous driving a reality. AI algorithms are one of the main components that enable self-driving cars to make sense of their surroundings, taking in feeds from cameras installed around the vehicle and detecting objects such as roads, traffic signs, other cars, and people.

Facial recognition: Facial recognition is one of the most popular applications of artificial intelligence. It has many uses, including unlocking your phone, paying with your face, and detecting intruders in your home. But the increasing availability of facial-recognition technology has also given rise to concerns regarding privacy, security, and civil liberties.

Business Sector: To take care of highly repetitive tasks Robotic process automation is applied which perform faster and effortlessly than humans. Further, Machine learning algorithms are being integrated into analytics and CRM platforms to provide better customer service. Chat bots being used into the websites to provide immediate service to customers.

Financial Sector: It can be applied to the personal finance applications and could collect personal data and provide financial advice.

Legal Sector: Automation can lead to faster resolution of already pending cases by reducing the time while analyzing cases thus better use of time and more efficient processes.

Manufacturing sector: Robots are used for manufacturing since a long time now, however, more advanced exponential technologies have emerged such as additive manufacturing (3D Printing) which with the help of AI can revolutionize the entire manufacturing supply chain ecosystem.

Intelligent Robots: Robots can perform the tasks given by a human because of sensors to detect physical data from the real world such as light, heat, temperature, movement, sound, bump, and pressure. Moreover, they have efficient processors, multiple sensors and huge memory, to exhibit intelligence. Further, they are capable of learning from their errors and therefore can adapt to the new environment.

Challenges in AI:

  • Lack of broad based expertise in research and application of AI.
  • Absence of enabling data ecosystems – access to intelligent data.
  • High resource cost and low awareness for adoption of AI.
  • Privacy and security, including a lack of formal regulations around anonymisation of data.
  • Absence of a collaborative approach to adoption and application of AI.
  • India lags far behind in terms of owning its own large commercial digital databases.

Way forward: 

  • Indian policymakers should be aiming at the highest levels of new value chains that AI will create in every sector.
  •  We need to create centres for the AI ecosystem instead of focusing on peripherals like small IT industries.
  • Instead, we need big digital corporations with a global outreach that can compete with other similar platforms all over the world.

It is important that the government makes policy interventions that give a push to domestic data-based sectoral platforms, like in e-commerce, urban transport, agriculture, health, education, etc.

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