The age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is said to have arrived. If the power of AI was initially understood as complex with the advent of ChatGPT, it has now reached the hands of the lay human being. Technological firms are therefore excited about the potential revolution this is going to bring in. Governments, too, are grappling with how AI can be used for improved governance.
However, for India, the key question is, will AI bring in improved development or further inequality among the people? The Government of India’s initiatives like the Summit RAISE 2020 – ‘Responsible AI for Social Empowerment’ was proof that there is much scope for AI to make way for social transformation and empowerment. For AI to aid in inclusive growth and development in the country, it is vital that we have a vision for utilising the power of AI for the same. Let us take the example of Bihar, one of India’s most underdeveloped states.
AI has the potential to make a positive impact on poor communities in Bihar in a number of ways. Here are some examples:
- Agriculture: Litchis from Muzaffarpur in Bihar, making way to London, made news a couple of years ago. The case was an example of AI and blockchain technology facilitating better access to national and global markets for farmers by ensuring they get a fair price for produce. Being primarily an agrarian state, Bihar’s farmers can benefit from AI tools for real-time data on weather patterns, soil health, and crop yield predictions, which can help them make informed decisions about when to plant and harvest their crops. AI can also be used to develop customised fertiliser and irrigation recommendations for individual farms, which can help improve crop yields and reduce water usage.
- Healthcare: A 2022 report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) stated that Bihar’s second-tier public health system is in shambles and highlighted the lack of monitoring as a major reason for the same. Incorporating AI-led systems in health governance can easily help in identifying this issue. Utilising the capacity of AI to analyse large amounts of health data to identify patterns and trends can help public health officials to better understand and respond to health issues. Further, issues of a high barrier to accessing healthcare in rural and remote areas of Bihar have a high scope of being addressed through virtual consultations and remote diagnosis.
- Education: Bihar faces a huge issue of shortage of teachers, and its literacy rate is 61 per cent, one of the lowest in the country. A recent ASER report showed that 17 per cent of class 8 students could not recognise digits. AI can be used to provide personalised learning experiences to students in Bihar, regardless of their location or socio-economic background. AI can also be used to develop educational content that is tailored to the specific needs and interests of individual students.
- Employment: Bihar has one of the youngest demographic in the country. This gives huge potential to tap into as well as a responsibility to create employment for them. It is estimated that around 20-25 million jobs will be added in India in the next two years alone around AI. Bihar, therefore, needs to focus on skilling and reskilling initiatives specific to the job roles of Machine Learning Specialists, Data Scientists, Information and Security Analysts, and IoT Specialists.
- Financial inclusion: AI can be used to improve access to financial services in poor communities in Bihar by analysing data on individual creditworthiness and creating customised financial products that are tailored to the specific needs of individuals.
- Public safety: AI can be used to improve public safety in Bihar by analysing crime data and identifying patterns and trends that can help law enforcement agencies to better allocate resources and prevent crime.
- Disaster management: Bihar being one of India’s most flood-prone states, was selected for piloting Google’s machine learning-powered ‘Flood forecasting initiative’. With its success, the Central Water Commission has now adopted it throughout the country. This is one of the examples where AI can be used to predict and track natural disasters, assess damage, and coordinate relief efforts.
AI thus has the power to transform India’s growth story from developing to developed, addressing our key development challenges even in reaching our most backward districts. Further, the world is going ahead on the AI bandwagon. Instead of spending time worrying about job loss due to AI, we owe it to the future generations of India to take vital steps to pave the way for AI-powered growth. This includes drastically expanding our IT infrastructure, bringing in low-cost skill courses across India and opening our governance systems to include AI-powered solutions.
The leading economies are fighting for AI supremacy from an economic and military perspective. However, India has taken the lead in its AI journey with social empowerment at its core. This is where our path lies, and we must be brave to forge our way forward with AI as a tool towards and not the end goal of development.