August 17, 2017 Yes Institute

Artificial Intelligence –The Revolution Takes Off

  1. Author: Mr. Rana Kapoor, MD & CEO – YES BANK, Chairman – YES Global Institute

The AI revolution is well and truly upon us, and we are at a significant watershed moment in our lives wherein AI would emerge to be the new Electricity of 21st century – pervasive and touching every aspect of our life. While many industries including healthcare, education, retail &banks have started adopting AI in key business aspects, there are also new business models which are predicated on AI.

With the global market of AI expected to grow at 36% annually, reaching a valuation of $3 trillion by 2025 from $126 bn in 2015, new age disruption is not only redefining the way traditional businesses are run, but is also unfolding as a new ‘factor of production’.

However, the fear of what might happen once AI evolves intoArtificial General Intelligence – which can perform any intellectual task that a human can do –has now taken center stage with ongoing debate between two Tech-Titans – Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. Similarly,Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates had also voiced his viewsthat in a few years, AI would haveevolved such that it will warrant wide attention, whileFacebook hasended up shutting down one of its AI projects as chatbots had developed their own language (unintelligible to humans) to communicate.

Beyond this, the common citizen wants to know if he/she should be worried about AI taking away his/her job? This calls for broader thinking including evolution of industry protocols, while make sure that the public is ready to encompass these futuristic advancements.

Will AI move my cheese?

The emergence of AI though has seen criticism in terms of replacing human jobs through automation; however, as we see the shift of AI from R&D stage to various real-life business prototypes, it seems evident that goal of most AI applications is to augment human abilities through hybrid business models.

According to McKinsey, AI would raise global labor productivity by 0.8 percent to 1.4 percent a year between now and 2065. I believe that both policy makers and corporates must recognize AI’s potential to empower the workforce and invest in creating training programs/workshops to help the labor force adapt to these newer models.

For instance, Ocado, the UK online supermarket has embedded robotics at the core of warehouse management wherein robots are steering thousands of product-filled bins and delivering them to human packers just in time to fill shopping bags which is then sent to delivery vans whose drivers use AI applications to pick the best route based on traffic conditions and weather.

Technology will create more new jobs than it eliminates:

We must learn from the history of industrial &technological revolutions over the last 500 years that jobs eliminated in one sector have been replaced by newer jobs requiring refreshed skill-sets. As a corollary, countries like Japan, Korea or Germany, which have the highest levels of automation, should have seen large scale unemployment over the past 4-5 decades. This is not necessarily the case.

Having said that, in the near future, every routine operational taskwould certainly get  digitized and AI would be running the back-office of most business; over the next few decades, many middle skill jobs are also likely to be eliminated. However, AI is unlikely to replace jobs which require human to human interaction. Consequently, fundamental human thinking skills such as entrepreneurship, strategic-thinking, social leadership, connected salesmanship, philosophy, and empathy amongst others would be in even greater demand.

Further, till a point of singularity is reached, AI will not service or program on its own leading to new, high-skilled jobs for technicians and computing experts.

Let’s be prepared:

Globally, the policymakers and corporations will need to significantly revamp the education system to address technology gaps.

In India, this represents an enormous opportunity for policymakers to make better informed decisions, tackle some of the toughest socio-economic challenges, and address the woeful shortage of qualified doctors, teachers etc.

In India, we need to immediately plan for state & nation-wide university hubs, and MOOCS built on the framework of D.I.C.E (Design, Innovation, Creativity led Entrepreneurship). Curriculum focused on developing basic skills in the STEM fields, coupled with a new emphasis on creativity, critical and strategic thinking.Adaptive and individualized learning systems to help students at different level work collaboratively amongst themselves as well as with AI in the classroom.

The National Skills Development Corporation will need to evolve into National Future Skills Development, as we as a civil society prepare to bring the future into the present!