Editorial : AI garage? — on kickstarting artificial intelligence


The NITI Aayog has published an ambitious(महत्त्वाकांक्षी/अभिलाषी) discussion paper on kickstarting the artificial intelligence (AI) ecosystem in India. AI is the use of computers to mimic human cognitive(संज्ञानात्मक/ज्ञान-संबंधी) processes for decision-making. The paper talks of powering five sectors — agriculture, education, health care, smart cities/infrastructure and transport — with AI. It highlights
the potential(क्षमता/सशक्त) for India to become an AI ‘garage’, or solutions provider, for
40% of the world. To pull this off, India would have to develop AI tools for a range of applications: reading cancer pathology reports, rerouting traffic in smart cities, telling farmers where to store their produce, and picking students at high risk of dropping out from school, among (के बीच में/मिलकर) them. It is a tall order, but several countries have similar ambitions. The U.S., Japan and China have published their AI strategy(रणनीति) documents and, importantly, put their money where their aspirations(आकांक्षाओं/महत्वाकांक्षा) are. China, for example, plans to hand out a million dollars in subsidies to AI firms, as well as to run a five-year university programme for 500 teachers and 5,000 students. The NITI Aayog does not talk about how India’s ambitions will be funded, but proposes an institutional structure to get things going. This structure includes(शामिल/सम्मिलित करना) a network of basic and applied research institutions, and a CERN-like multinational laboratory(प्रयोगशाला) that would focus on global AI challenges.
These are lofty(बुलंद/ऊंचे) goals, but they beg the question: can India bring(लाना/सामने लाना) it to pass? In answer, the NITI Aayog offers a sombre(निराशाजनक/विषादपूर्ण) note of caution. India hardly has any AI expertise today. The paper estimates that it has around 50 top-notch AI researchers, concentrated in elite institutions like the IITs. Further, only around 4% of Indian AI professionals are trained in emerging(प्रकट होना/उभरना) technologies such as deep learning. And while India does publish a lot, these publications aren’t very impactful(प्रभावी); India’s H-index, a measure(मात्रा/प्रमाण) of how often its papers are cited, is behind 18 other countries. This is not encouraging, considering that returns on AI are not guaranteed. The technology has tripped up as often as it has delivered. Among successes, a recent study found that a Google neural network correctly identified cancerous skin lesions more often than expert(विशेषज्ञ ) dermatologists(त्वचाविज्ञानी) did. India, with its acute shortage of specialist doctors in rural areas, could benefit greatly from such a tool. On the other hand, studies have found that AI image-recognition(पहचान/मान्यता) technologies do badly at identifying some races, because the data used to train them over-represent other races. This highlights the importance of quality data in building smart AI tools; India lacks(अभाव/कमी होना) this in sectors such as agriculture and health. Where data exist, this is poorly annotated, making it unusable by AI systems. Despite(के बावजूद/विरोध से) these formidable(विकट/भयंकर) challenges, the scope of NITI Aayog’s paper must be lauded. The trick will be to follow it up with action, which will demand a strong buy-in from policymakers and substantial funds. The coming years will show if the country can manage this.

Important Vocabulary
1.cognitive(संज्ञानात्मक/ज्ञान-संबंधी)
Synonyms: cognitive, emotional, intellectual, mental, subjective
Antonyms: physical, body
2.lofty(बुलंद/ऊंचे)
Synonyms: soaring, towering, aerial, airy, high-rise
Antonyms: below, beneath,, humble, low, modest
3.formidable(विकट/भयंकर)
Synonyms: dangerous, daunting, dire, dreadful, fierce
Antonyms: calm, poor, trivial, unimportant, unthreatening
4.lacks(अभाव/कमी होना
Synonyms: absence, dearth, inadequacy, loss, paucity
Antonyms: abundance, affluence, enough, excess, plenty, success
5.sombre(निराशाजनक/विषादपूर्ण)
Synonyms: boring, flat, ho-hum, muted, uninspired
Antonyms: bright, enthusiastic, lively, shining, shiny
6.ambitious(महत्त्वाकांक्षी/अभिलाषी
Synonyms: aggressive, determined, earnest, energetic, enthusiastic
Antonyms: lethargic, unenthusiastic, content, easy, facile



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