The capabilities of AI, which primarily leverage recent developments in data collection, storage, computing and communication technologies, are inching towards science fiction. If properly harnessed, AI clearly has the potential to transform the world in many ways and address many of the world’s problems. Many scientists, business leaders, and even politicians seem to agree that whoever leads in AI will rule the world. The governments of several countries, including those of the U.S., U.K., France, Japan and China have announced their AI strategies in the last few years. However, except for a discussion paper released by NITI Aayog in mid 2018, India does not have an AI strategy. In the meanwhile, many large global companies have announced massive investments in AI in the last few years, and are hiring AI professionals at a feverish pace. This huge demand has put a lot of strain on the academia and is forcing many short-sighted decisions. The specter of AI being dominated by a handful of companies is looming large.

India’s AI strategy needs to be tailored for India’s unique needs. At the same time, India has the potential to play a much larger role and be the AI garage of the world. While India’s progress and leadership in the IT sector is impressive, there is a fear that without a concerted effort in AI, India’s IT sector will be left behind. The government must play a pro-active role in setting up an ecosystem of research, development, productization, and service creation in which academia, industry (including startups), and governmental and non-governmental agencies come together to innovate and build AI technologies that benefit India and the world. The ecosystem must be set up with proper incentives, so that AI for common good is not relegated to the back seat.

NITI Aayog has had the commendable vision to address this issue and release a discussion paper:
The paper lists a few priority sectors for India such as healthcare, agriculture, education, smart city infrastructure and smart mobility. It also outlines a two-tier structure to address India’s research aspirations, consisting of a Centre of Research Excellence (CORE), and International Centres of Transformational AI (ICTAI). The goal of the panel discussion will be to look at the main recommendations of the discussion paper from various perspectives such as academia, industry (including startup) and government, assess the feasibility and effectiveness of the proposed ideas, identify potential issues and impediments to implementation, and suggest a set of building blocks that could form the AI strategy for India. The organizers of the conference aim to publish a position paper based on the outcome of the panel discussion.

Dr. Anna Roy  

NITI Aayog

Dr. Vijay Chandru

Founder Director, Strand Life Sciences 

Prof Anurag Kumar

Director, Indian Institute of Science

Dr. Arpan Pal

Chief Scientist and Research Area Head, Embedded Systems and Robotics, TCS

Dr. K. R. Murali Mohan

Head, Inter-disciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems Division, DST

Moderator: Dr. Manish Gupta