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What is the India story for Generative AI?

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By Sanjay Sehgal, Chairman & CEO, MSys Technologies , Venture and angel Investor, Philanthropist

Every few years comes a disruptive technology that catalyzes the development stages of not
just companies but also society as a whole. Generative AI may not be as big as the invention of the internet but it is a foundational block to create a new digital transformation aided by AI.

The reason why Generative AI is one of the most exciting chapters in this journey of transformation is because the technology comes very close to imitating human quality of output. It sparks a very controversial debate about its advantages and disadvantages, especially in a country like ours with a large disposition to lose in terms of jobs that can be replaced by AI. But let’s look at our own journey of digital transformation closely. India has always charted a strong developmental course in terms of the tech industry with robust manpower, unmatched pricing, and a very dynamic workforce that has placed our country sixth in terms of AI investments between 2013-2022. Here, we do have to be mindful that our journey as a country for any disruptive technology may look completely different than others.

Take internet adoption for instance, When it arrived in India (early 1990s), it was primarily used by the Government and educational institutions. The real transformation in internet adoption began with the proliferation of affordable smartphones and the introduction of 3G and 4G mobile data services. Similarly, AI companies have been around in our country for almost a decade now, but the true transformation journey begins as the end user realizes its potential and with exciting developments in Chat GPT, Dall-E, Bing Chat, and many more.

We shape our tools and then they shape us
The Indian technology sector is positively booming with palpable excitement over Generative AI, but to err on the side of caution, we also should look at the possible threats. Like any disruptive technology, this too, can be used to spread misinformation, run elaborate scams, and overall wreak havoc on cybersecurity that affects millions. While it is not possible to slow down the growth momentum of technology, we should also build legible structures that safeguard corporations and more importantly the end user from this. This rapid pace of development may also have its advantages against the perils it creates where the same technology can be used to detect fraud and strengthen processes for better optimisation of an organisation. However, it will redefine the imperativeness of cybersecurity and form a fast-paced dynamic environment that may be hard for all digital citizens to keep up with.

The Indian tech industry has to go through a major upheaval
While the use cases of Generative AI are many, it still remains to be a tool that can improve
the efficiency of a well-oiled machine and not fix a broken one. For instance, it can substantially increase labor productivity across the economy, but that will require investments to support workers as they shift work activities or change jobs. It is not likely to cause major job losses barring the ones that can be easily automated but it will change the focus within the jobs.The challenge is to have adaptive organisational policies that can evolve to use the technology to upgrade their functions.

Generative AI is not a one-size-fits-all solution
India’s largest part of employees is concentrated in unorganised sectors and in industries that are yet to be digitally transformed. While centralised industries like the BFSI sector, customer servicing platforms, educational institutions, and overall IT services may benefit from AI adoption, it still constitutes a small percentage. Infrastructurally India will have to develop its own unique solutions pertaining to AI that help close the gaps of development in this country.

On the tech front, India’s biggest strength which has kept us afloat even through some of the toughest times globally, is our strength of IT services. We may not need to create a Chat GPT-level innovation but we sure can be the underdogs who help other companies build a new league of sophisticated systems that create such disruptive technologies.

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