Slow and Steady: India’s Tentative Steps Into the AI Race
Trisha Ray in The Diplomat
This is an excerpt from an article by Asia Society Policy Institute Program Assistant Trisha Ray, which was published by The Diplomat.
President Vladimir Putin made headlines last year when he said, “Whoever leads in AI will be the ruler of the world.” His comments came at a time when artificial intelligence (AI) had freshly burst into the public consciousness, riding a wave of exhaustive public debate centered on the so-called “AI Race.” Governments all around the world are scrambling to make the most of the coming paradigm shift, which is expected to increase global GDP by $15.7 trillion or 14 percent by 2030, improving productivity and efficiency in a wide range of sectors, including defense.
Among these countries is India, which is a relatively late entrant in the race, but has massive potential in AI research and application. While it only released a national AI strategy earlier this year, research and development (R&D) on the applications of AI in defense has been making slow but steady progress for three decades, making India one of the dark horses to look out for in the AI race.
India certainly has the talent and expertise to be an AI power. It produced 643 widely-cited AI research papers in 2015, behind only the United States and China, and churned out 2.6 million STEM graduates in 2016. Despite this, until quite recently AI research in the country was primarily housed in universities, namely the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), and was focused on fintech and industrial applications. AI R&D activity in the public sector was limited, although leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken note of the emerging trend.
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