Infosys Co-Founder Krish Gopalakrishnan hit the right button when he said recently that India needs major reskilling for Artificial Intelligence. That’s right: like India had to upgrade its knowledge and skill base when it was first hit by the IT wave some three decades ago, it now has to do something more intuitive and smarter to take on this wave.
What is different about this development is that although it has been around for some half a century, cloud technology has given it a new impetus which promises to take it to new heights. The other, more significant difference lies in the impact it could make: it could affect jobs in all the sectors that employ most of India’s working population, from agriculture to manufacturing and from automotive to retail.
This is why there is a very special and urgent need to reskill ourselves in AI. But what exactly should we be doing to do this? Is it all about just acquiring the latest learning and learning from the developments happening in other parts of world, especially the west? This is something we have been doing all along. This is how we built our IT industry, too. Which explains why we have been the world’s leader at outsourcing, and not at new technologies.
But considering the enormity of the impact AI could have on our lives, we certainly need to do more. We have to innovate. This is the only way by which we can stay ahead of the pack. If China, traditionally never associated with technological innovation, is doing this in AI, is there something preventing us from doing the same?
I am not suggesting that we look to China and emulate them, the way we have done of the west. We need to develop intuitive, out-of-the-box thinking. For starters, we have a few online platforms that provide teaching on AI. Learning platforms such as Coursera, Lynda, Khan Academy, Simpliv, Udemy et al are shoring up people’s knowledge about AI and are sure to do more in the years to come.
More than anything else, we need to nurture a culture of innovation and science. Are we ready for it, having been inured to the opposite for centuries throughout our history? An occasional Sushruta, Aryabhata, Ramanujan, J C Bose or C V Raman may dot our science firmament, but these are too patchy for a nation of our size and complexity. Absolutely no offence meant to our galaxy of scientists, please.
Is AI going to be the paradigm that is going to push us into innovation, an area of traditional weakness? Let us know your thoughts.