VIF CNAS Webinar on AI and Quantum Computing, 8 Nov, 2021 | Opening remarks by Arvind Gupta, Director VIF

It is a matter of great pleasure for the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) to join National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) and Centre for New American Studies (CNAS) for a webinar on the potential of Indo-US collaboration on AI and quantum computing. We look forward to constructive ideas that would take forward the India US cooperation forward.

The AI scene in India is changing rapidly. The government has announced strategic initiatives to support the AI. The industry has come forward with great enthusiasm. Top end research is happening in the field. The growing collaboration between the government, academia and industry is a matter of satisfaction.

Gleaned from official sources and media reports the following markers point to the robust growth of AI in India.

  • AI is growing rapidly in India. According to Stanford University AI index 2021, AI skill penetration rate is highest in India; AI skill hiring is second highest in India after Brazil.
  • India’s AI market is expected to reach $US7.8 billion by 2025. According to Accenture, gross value added by AI to the economy will reach nearly a trillion dollar by 2035.
  • As per a recent report, India reported a 45% increase in the use of Artificial Intelligence, the highest among all countries, because of shift in buying behaviour and new business challenges (owing to Covid-19 pandemic).
  • In 2018 India National Institute for Transformational Initiatives(NITI) Aayog announced a National Strategy for AI. It provides for a Two-tier integrated approach to boost both core and applied research in AI by providing for the setting up of Centres of Research
  • Excellence in Artificial Intelligence (CORES) and the ICTAI (International Centre for Transformational Artificial Intelligence). These will take care of core and applied research in AI.
  • In addition, AIRWAT, a cloud computing platform for Big Data Analytics and Assimilation, will be set up for advanced AI processing.
  • The Indian government formed a committee in late 2019 to push for an organized AI policy and establish the precise functions of government agencies to further India’s AI mission.
  • In 2019, Finance Minister in her budget speech said the government would offer industry-relevant skill training for 10 million youth in India in technologies like AI, Big Data and robotics.
  • In 2020, the Indian government increased the outlay for Digital India to $477 million to boost AI, IoT, big data, cybersecurity, machine learning and robotics.
  • India has been ranked 8th in the world on AI patents. According to the tech industry trade body NASSCOM, in the past five years, more than 4,000 AI patents have been filed.
  • Recently, India joined the 'Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI)' as a founding member to support the responsible and human-centric development and use of AI.
  • As of 2020, the AI funding was at US$949 million. This is comparable to UK’s USD1.3 billion.
  • Educational institutions have started offering bachelor and masters level degrees in AI. This will improve the availability of AI skills.
  • Several Indian companies have adopted AI in their business models in areas such as logistics, fintech, agriculture, healthcare, smart cities, transportation etc.
  • India is emerging as an AI start-up hub. New AI-based start-ups in India and are expected to hit 100 by 2025.
  • NASSCOM, through its programme AI Game-changers, is focussed on driving Artificial Intelligence models in India.
  • Within the formwork of New Education Policy 2020 (NEP2020), the new National Curriculum Framework for School Education will include a basic course on AI at the secondary level.
  • National Research Foundation, an autonomous body under the NEP, has been established to boost research across segments, including AI.
Quantum Computing
  • The race for quantum computing is hotting up. As per media reports, China with an allocation of USD 10 billion for quantum R&D in their current five year plan is leading the pack. Others are: Germany – USD 2.4 billion; Canada-USD 360 million; US - USD 1.2 billion; Japan - USD 276 million.
  • India is not far behind. In her 2020 budget speech, the Finance Minister announced an allocation of Rs 8,000 crore (USD I billion), over a period of five years, towards the National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications (NM-QTA).
  • On Aug. 30, 2021, the Indian government launched the country’s first quantum computer simulator toolkit, called QSim that will serve as an important educational / research tool.
US-India AI Initiative
  • On 18 March 2021, the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) of Indian Department of Science (DST} and US State Department launched the US-India Artificial Intelligence Initiative to identify opportunities in AI collaboration.
  • The IUSSTF will organize a series of activities to engage government agencies, academic institutions, industries that are creating AI tools and technologies, professional scientific societies, and foundations.
  • In October 2020, the Telangana government, the Public Health Foundation India and Intel launched an Intel-AI centre for developing applications in healthcare and smart mobility.
Suggestions:

We need to enhance stakeholder cooperation between India and the US on AI and QC. US India AI initiative, supported by both the governments is a good platform to do that.

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