As the next big opportunity unfolds in front of us, will India as a nation panic and let it pass and do nothing, or do enough to fully drive its impact on society, economy, and quality of life of its citizens. Will India take a leadership role? Will all the AI jobs be filled?

The buzz around is, AI is going to take away our jobs and make us redundant. There will be unemployment as the routine jobs are going to go away and will be done by machines or robots. Driverless cars, automatic assembly lines, diagnostics, engineering, art, software, all are expected to be impacted. Reports after reports are analyzing its impact and providing estimates.

Here we are turning the discussion on its head. We are asking “if India will be able to fill all the jobs that AI is offering”. Do we have the ability to ride the tide?  Are our institutions and academia ready to teach us newer ways of getting into this AI space? Are we ready at the industry level to decode the business problems into actionable AI components? Are we ready to rethink design and innovation? These questions are to be answered.

To capitalize on this opportunity, an AI ecosystem is required and for that, only a comprehensive and holistic approach will help. I am seeing a lot of enthusiasm and desire to get this done but little action on the ground. Only big players in the industry are getting ready as they have access to global resources of training, education, research, use case, and client's co-innovation cells. They will form their own AI ecosystems and sail through the revolution ahead. But these big players, as a unit form a very small percentage of the total industry.

The real challenge will be for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) where the mass number of units exists. For them to have an ecosystem on their own may not be economically viable and also take more time than the opportunity offers. Where will they find the sustainable advantage from? An initiative has to be taken at the industry level where the Government collaborates with an industry, academia, trade bodies and innovation enablers. We do have the learnings from the IT industry where autonomous bodies like STPI and others created one of the largest opportunities for India. This time the approach has to be much larger and deep-rooted.

The academia is equally at cross-roads. While the Board of Studies in the academia are asking to upgrade the course content - we recently saw an example of CBSE including emerging technologies in the curriculum, the faculty needs to be trained to teach. Workshops need to have real-life and industry-ready use cases to train on, the models for business innovation has to have arrived at the design thinking embedded in the processes.

We will have a lot of jobs go begging if we do not put an AI ecosystem together by the mid of the year 2020. We are heading towards jobs not getting filled unless we instill the momentum to leverage this opportunity.

Author: Himani Pargaien Date: 2020-06-26 04:08:00
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