Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been redefining society in ways we have never anticipated. Technology is clinging to us in every walk of our lives, right from unlocking our smartphones to our day-to-day activities, online shopping, intelligent car dashboards, autonomous robots and so on. Though the concept of AI was first talked about in the early 1950s, forming a basis for many computer learning and complex decision-making processes, it is only of late, where processing huge amounts of data is required, that this field of technology is picking up pace.
What is in the AI basket?
AI is not a technology, rather it is a science or field of study. It is a constellation that encompasses a lot of statistical computation methods, pre and post analyses techniques for handling structured and unstructured data. It is an interesting endeavour of replicating and stimulating human intelligence through machine and deep learning platforms, natural language generation, virtual agents, text-voice-image recognition, AI optimised hardware, robotic process automation, cognitive search system and so on. It has a goal of utilising all the technologies to make intelligent machines.
Growth of AI in India
AI is the tool of innovation being experimented with, in almost all Indian domains, including healthcare, education, agriculture, finance, automobiles, energy, retail, manufacturing, scientific research with autonomous discoveries in place. In India, companies like Walmart, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Samsung are into AI-based research and product offerings. Still, our country has a lot of potential to expand its research in this cutting-edge technology. Most of our educational, government and private institutes cradle and motivate AI researchers, innovations and start-ups.
The Government is pushing the private sector and offers many opportunities through DST, Niti Aayog, IndiaAI and many more, to create innovative technological solutions and fund AI-based start-ups. The start-ups are focussed in the cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Delhi for AI-based businesses.
Why AI matters in today’s scenario
AI, which emerged from the research world as a proof-of-concept has been strategically scaling up due to the pace of digitisation. AI is favoured for its large data processing, end-to-end efficiency of decoding complex processes, improved accuracy and help in decision-making, intelligent offerings, smart services – content, task automation and so on. We can see its overwhelming development in healthcare, pharmaceutical, scientific research, and e-commerce.
The interactive applications of Google, DeepMind’s Alpha Fold, BenevolentAI, chatbots such as Clara and Zini; Aryoga Setu, Co-Win, Amazon, Zomato, Swiggy are among the few proving to be our pandemic tech saviours.
Impact of AI in business
Business over the years has evolved from local corner shops to the booming online shopping platforms. These modernised techniques not only make individual lives easier, but also streamline business processes for improving consumer experience, sales forecasting and automated decision making to meet business goals. Businesses work well when humans, machines and technologies integrate for each other’s benefit. Today’s business world is solely dependent on AI, Cloud, Big Data technologies of which e-commerce and m-commerce are the mainstream, having a great business impact globally. In synch with global developments in innovation and automation, India too has brought about a digital transformation over the last two decades. Now, technological developments have gained pace more than what has been predicted; the pandemic played a great role in its quick transformation and adoption.
How to look for jobs in AI?
Today, Artificial Intelligence is a lucrative domain, promising job growth in a competitive IT industry. Four out of five C-suite executives believe that they need to speed up data processing and automation, if they have to survive in their business. So, recruiters look for advanced technical skills, extensive practical experience. AI skills secure the top place among the fastest growing job profiles over the recent years. The prominent job roles include big data engineer, business intelligence developer, data scientist, data analyst, cyber analyst and expert, AI-Deep learning-machine learning engineer, computer vision specialist along with equivalent research jobs.
How can one find a good job in AI? The answer is, there are several avenues and opportunities to be had by connecting with experts via LinkedIn, technical blogs, career fairs and company career sites. The tech talks given by companies in university, conclaves hosting academics-government-industry groups will help you understand the actual employment needs and goals. Always aim to seek opportunities at government and industry-funded research labs during the early years of your higher education. This will help you to nurture your skillset to the best. Work for open-source and stack overflow contributions which will add value to your technical profile. Technical competitions like hackathons/ideathons/makeathons will upskill your innovative ideas along with the required life skills.
Globally, today we are in a challenging situation. All, irrespective of the sectors, are working on the revamp strategy to balance the economy post Covid-19. AI will endeavour to revive the profitability and development of industry . New and advanced opportunities are expected to open up.
AI is and will be driving a promising future in the new normal. It will be the main driver for emerging and new technologies. So, take an interdisciplinary approach to hone your skills in an ever-evolving field. Think big, start small, act fast.
(The writer is Professor & Chairperson, School of Computing, SRM Institute of Science and Technology.)