India needs a different AI narrative: Tata Sons chairman

India needs a different AI narrative: Tata Sons chairman
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13 Feb, 2020

The narrative that artificial intelligence will take up jobs, while probably true for other countries, is a bit out of sync with India.

Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons, believes India needs to leverage technology to its advantage rather than deliberating about its possible negative impacts.

He was speaking at the industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies or Nasscom’s event held in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Chandrasekaran argued that India is trying to solve problems that are unheard of in developed economies. Nasscom, for example, is aiming to add some 90 million working professionals to the industry by 2030, at a time when other countries are facing a skill shortage due to an ageing population.

India also has a large number of workers in the informal sector, which need to be included in the formal economy on a priority basis.

The country needs to deploy new-age technologies in soft infrastructure sectors such as agriculture, education and infrastructure, skilling  and education to augment human and physical capital. These sectors have historically suffered from a dearth of infrastructure.
Advanced countries have mutual markets where digital transformation is focused on improving efficiency, productivity. India needs to leverage technology to create a market.

“We need to reflect closely on all this narrative taking jobs. Sorry to say comes from advanced economies. Because all their issues such as aging comes from markets getting mature, lack of growth. The need for automation comes from lack of workforce and profitability,” he said.

Additionally, India needs to skill and reskill the workforce to bring them up to speed with digital advancements. AI and machine learning should not remain the exclusive domain of elite and technocrats and should percolate to all professions.

However, India will always remain a stretched economy as technological innovation will come in different sectors at different times, he added.