India must develop cutting-edge tech
Telecom and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the coronavirus-hit world needs to adopt technology and AI even more strongly and the efforts are required in areas such as agriculture, healthcare and education. Prasad said the government is already focused on harnessing technology to ensure inclusive growth and distribution of relief and social-sector benefits in an equitable manner. His ministry is also trying to see, for instance, how crop yields can be improved by predicting the weather. The government, he said, wants much of the cutting-edge technology to be developed within the country, for which it is also encouraging the startup ecosystem.
Sandip Patel, GM for IBM’s India and South Asia business, said the world has witnessed a sudden adoption of digital across governments, businesses and individuals. IBM, he said, is deploying AI and technology for local language support on Covid queries in Andhra Pradesh. “We have been working to implement a Watson assistant which is hosted on the ICMR portal to respond to specific queries,” he said.
Google Research India director Manish Gupta said technology and AI were deployed to help the thousands of migrant workers who were stranded to find, on Google Maps and through Google search, where food and night shelters were available. “We even allowed voice-based queries,” he said.
Nvidia South Asia MD Vishal Dhupar said they are partnering with doctors to mitigate the Covid problem. AI cameras, he said, can tell if someone has high temperature. Prof RK Shevgaonkar, vice chancellor of Bennett University, said that technology has ensured that the disruptions due to Covid-19 do not destroy the world completely.
Blended learning will be new normal
Anant Agarwal, CEO of EdX, a learning platform founded by Harvard and MIT, said many people have now realised that online learning is okay. “These trends will stay with us into the future. Blended learning, with a combination of in-person and online classes, will become the new normal,” he said. “It’s like personalised teaching that took place in ancient times, the ones that a re mentioned in the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Princes and princesses had a chance to learn from the best sages at their own pace,” he said.
Rohini Srivathsa, national technology officer at Microsoft India, said data and AI are at the base of every new technology and these would play a critical role in accelerating the pace of recovery.
Sanket Baraley, the founder/CEO of FIGmd, a Google Ventures backed company that manages health data for 40% of Americans, said India presents a lot of challenges when it comes to deploying AI for social good. The fact that less than a third of India’s population has smartphones also makes AI solutions less feasible, he said.
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AI for contactless solutions
Vinish Kathuria, founder, SenseAI, a venture fund, said solutions have to move towards a voice-driven or a biometric-driven contactless interaction, whether in retail, financial services, hospitality or others. “We as consumers are very used to a high-touch, high-contact environment,” he said. Startups, he said, can add a lot of value by developing indigenous Indiafocused solutions.
Adarsh Natarajan, founder of healthtech startup Aindra, said it would not be possible for a country like India to test its entire population of 1.3 billion and that’s where AI can play a critical role. “What really is the need of the hour is quick triaging, quick screening, using methods that are portable,” he said.
Amardeep Sibia, founder, Drishya.ai, which develops AI solutions for the energy sector, said contactless tests is an area where AI can add value.
Jaydeep Singh, founder of skill development platform Empass, said language benefits from AI tremendously. “It boils down to creating content which is of great quality.”
AI can help manage social crisis
Ajay Gupta of the Western Michigan University said in this age of disinformation, AI should be used to counter false narratives of Covid-19. “If models can be developed, AI can be really handy there. It depends on how one collects data and curates it,” he said.
Rajeev Agarwal, computer scientist at Engineer Research and Development Centre under the US Army Corps of Engineers, said graph algorithms use the relationships among network nodes to learn insights to make actionable predictions. “In the last few months, many graph-related Covid-19 projects have focused on tracing connections between people, identifying clusters of elevated activity,” he said.
Bharat Bhargava, professor at Purdue University, said if the university does not reopen for the next session, the state of Indiana would lose about $2.1 billion, a majority from student tuition fees.