‘Tech trends like AI can be hyped sometimes’

Innovation at the startup level is critical to the economy and it can create an ecosystem of entrepreneurship, but trends like artificial intelligence (AI) can “become somewhat of hype” if seen as an end itself, a top Microsoft India executive said.

“One has to watch out for the fact that at the end, it (AI) is about providing business value to a particular customer, a specific market segment, a particular industry and creating something that is making a difference. So, it’s not applying AI for the sake of applying AI,” said Rohini Srivathsa, national technology officer at Microsoft India.

To guide AI startups in India and help them scale, Microsoft announced the AI Innovate startup programme in October. Srivathsa points out that the idea of AI Innovate was to help startups leverage AI technologies, innovate, build industry expertise and scale operations. Microsoft is working with startups from various industries including financial services, healthcare, education, agriculture, space and manufacturing for this.

AI and data can add up to $500 billion to India’s GDP by 2025, according to estimates by software body Nasscom. More organizations now want to leverage AI in their business operations, fuelling the growth of AI startups. A December 2021 report by McKinsey Analytics on the state of AI shows that India was the leading adopter of AI across regions, followed closely by Asia-Pacific.

Srivathsa attributes the growth in AI adoption to the availability of data at an exponential scale along with the power of cloud and computing. However, she maintained that every organization has certain processes to do business and they want to leverage AI in a way that will empower them on their journey. “That is why it becomes important to not just think of using AI but to empower domain experts, non-profits, and governments so they can create value using AI.”

A case in point is Delhi-based non-profit Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS), which recently launched an AI model called Sunny Lives in collaboration with Microsoft and Gramener. The model uses high-resolution satellite imagery to detect and assign risk scores to buildings based on their roof types to provide risk information at a hyper-local level. It has been used for risk assessment of cyclone-induced flooding in India.

“AI is going to be used a lot more to address humanitarian issues; even health, which is coming out as a major challenge. With the democratization of AI, domain experts in these areas can leverage the technology to create capabilities that can help solve many problems,” she added.

Srivathsa believes citizen developers powered by low code/no code solutions will play a key role in democratizing AI. “AI is about visualizing data and creating insights that can help people understand what is happening in the system. Many of these are now possible in a low code/no code form. There are technologies in that portfolio that are helping people create virtual agents or automated tools with a low code/ no code philosophy,” she added.

Though AI is playing an important role in augmenting human capabilities, Srivathsa believes, it is important to build it on principles of fairness, reliability, inclusion, safety, transparency and accountability. In April 2021, for instance, the European Commission released its proposal to create a “well-functioning internal market for artificial intelligence systems.”

Microsoft, on its part, has been working with Niti Aayog on responsible AI thinking for the country.

“The discussions that we are having is that in high-risk scenarios, we can use the right checks and balances to help people responsibly adopt AI,” Srivathsa said.

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint.
Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.


Subscribe to Mint Newsletters

* Enter a valid email

* Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Post your comment

Leave a Comment