Q) AI as a technology holds tremendous potential for a country like India, which is data rich and has the requisite technological capability to create AI solutions for many of its problems. Discuss.

Why this question?

Recently the National AI Portal (INDIAai) celebrated its first anniversary.

Key demand of the Question 

Potential of development of AI in India and challenges it can address.


Discuss- back up the answer by carefully selected evidence to make a case for and against an argument, or point out the advantages and disadvantages of the given context and finally arrive at a conclusion.


Give an overview of AI.


In the first part, highlight the potential of AI in India and the challenges it can address. 

In the next part, discuss the concerns related to it.


Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

Artificial intelligence describes the actions of machines accomplishing tasks that are historically required human intelligence. it includes technologies like machine learning, pattern recognition, big data, neural networks, self-algorithm, etc. With incredible advances made in data collection, processing and computation power, intelligent systems can now be deployed to take over a variety of tasks, enable connectivity and enhance productivity. As AI’s capabilities have dramatically expanded, so have its utility in a growing number of fields. 

Applications of Artificial Intelligence 

  1. Online shopping and advertising – Artificial intelligence is widely used to provide personalized recommendations to people. AI is hugely important in commerce: optimizing products, planning inventory, logistics etc. 
  2. Web search – Search engines learn from the vast input of data, provided by their users to provide relevant search results. 
  1. Digital personal assistants – Smartphones use AI to provide services that are as relevant and personalised as possible. Virtual assistants answer questions, provide recommendations, help organise daily routines, etc. 
  1. Machine translations – Language translation software, either based on written or spoken text, relies on artificial intelligence to provide and improve translations. This also applies to functions such as automated subtitling. 
  1. Smart homes, cities and infrastructure – Smart thermostats learn from our behaviour to save energy, while developers of smart cities hope to regulate traffic to improve connectivity and reduce traffic jams. 
  1. Automobiles – While self-driving vehicles are not yet standard, cars already use AI-powered safety functions. The EU has for example helped to fund VI-DAS, automated sensors that detect possible dangerous situations and accidents. Navigation is largely AI-powered. 
  1. Cybersecurity – AI systems can help recognise and fight cyberattacks and other cyber threats based on the continuous input of data, recognising patterns and backtracking the attacks. 
  1. Artificial intelligence against Covid-19 – In the case of Covid-19, AI has been used in thermal imaging in airports and elsewhere. In medicine it can help recognize infection from computerized tomography lung scans. It has also been used to provide data to track the spread of the disease. 
  1. Fighting disinformation – Certain AI applications can detect fake news and disinformation by mining social media information, looking for words that are sensational or alarming and identifying which online sources are deemed authoritative. 
  1. Health – Researchers are studying how to use AI to analyse large quantities of health data and discover patterns that could lead to new discoveries in medicine and ways to improve individual diagnostics. Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) backed by artificial intelligence helps to treat neurological diseases and trauma to the nervous system, helps in developing next generation radiology tools such as PET-SCAN, CT-SCANS etc. 
  1. Transport – AI could improve the safety, speed and efficiency of rail traffic by minimising wheel friction, maximising speed and enabling autonomous driving. Tesla Cars use AI. 
  1. Agriculture – AI applications in agriculture have developed applications and tools which help farmers in accurate and controlled farming by providing them proper guidance to farmers about water management, crop rotation, timely harvesting, type of crop to be grown, optimum planting, pest control etc. use of drone to analyze the captured images and provide a detailed report containing the current health of the farm.  
  1. AI Robotics in Agriculture – AI companies are developing robots that can easily perform multiple tasks in farming fields. This type of robot is trained to control weeds and harvest crops at a faster pace with higher volumes compared to humans. These types of robots are trained to check the quality of crops and detect weeds while picking and packing crops at the same time. 

Challenges of AI 

  1. It requires massive computational capacity which means more power-hungry datacenters had a bigger carbon footprint. 
  2. The environmental impact caused by data centres doesn’t stop at electrical consumption. Coolants are often made of hazardous chemicals, and battery backups at data centres cause an environmental impact both due to mining for battery components and their disposal. 
  1. Robotics and AI can help perform tasks typically carried out by low-income workers: self-service kiosks to replace cashiers, fruit-picking robots to replace field workers, etc. 
  1. Without clear policies on reskilling workers, the promise of new opportunities will in fact create serious new inequalities, both inter and intra country. 
  1. AI uses digital footprints and feeds them in their algorithm to exploit commercially without our consent, thus affecting our privacy. 
  1. It can be used in issues like alteration of election results, etc. 

India wants to build a data-rich and a data-driven society as data, through AI, which offers limitless opportunities to improve society, empower individuals and increase the ease of doing business. India can leverage AI for inclusive development, representing the country's 'AI for All' strategy.