Artificial intelligence is going to transform life of human beings: Amitabh Kant

With several leaders raising concerns about artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on Thursday said it is going to transform the life of human beings.

“The challenge in India is very different to the Western world. We believe AI is going to transform the life of human beings,” Kant said here at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.

“How do you provide better data, images to your doctors, how do you track individual students who are not performing well so you can improve learning outcomes. AI needs to be accessed in a very scientific manner for transforming lives of citizens,” he said.

Kant also said bringing in too many rules will stifle innovation and the objective is to use AI for the benefit of all.

“To ensure AI doesn’t remain elitist it is very important to create a global alliance, much like CERN was for particle physics. You need broad norms but too many rules will stifle innovation,” he said.

He said data is like a public road. “You open up all that data to them. For us in India, our belief is that all data is held by public entities. All government data should be opened up,” he said, adding that the ultimate beneficiary is the consumer.

The session on ‘Setting roles for the AI race’ saw the panellists also discuss economies worldwide rolling out ambitious national plans to gain a competitive edge in AI technologies.

The speakers discussed what shared governance principles will help ensure that AI is deployed safely and ethically.

According to a research, AI is projected to manage assets worth $1 trillion by 2020 itself.

NYU School of Business Professor Amy Webb said there is misplaced optimism as well as fear around AI.

“The key issue for us all to bear in mind is there are nine companies that control the future of AI. We ought to be paying attention to them,” she said.

Webb said the challenge is that there is a relatively small number of people making decisions on behalf of us all. Every single consumer at some point is touching one of those companies, she added.

David Siegel of Two Sigma said AI today is just code running in a computer. It is hard to distinguish between AI software and regular software.

He said it is more a question of what to do with the intersection of software and Big Data. Most of the big issues are more focused on data, he added.

Siemens AG Chairman Jim Hagemann Snabe said we are not very intelligent in how we use AI.

“We are here in Davos because we have difficult problems to solve. It is time to leverage this tech to solve some of those big problems.

“For me it is the access to data and how we leverage platforms in open ways. If we don’t allow everyone to access the platforms and allow equal access to data, we will have big problems,” he said.

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