China’s goal to become Global power in AI

Context
Chinese tech giants are on course to spend 15 billion dollars, on AI projects this year alone, a rise of nearly 50% in just two years. Artificial Intelligence and China’s stance:
  • China has been consistently building an ecosystem to fuel its ambition to become a world leader in AI by the year 2050.
  • A report on China AI development released in the year 2018 said that from the year 2013 to the first quarter of the year 2018, the investment and financing in AI technology in China accounts for 60% in the world valued at 27 billion dollars in the year 2017.
India and AI:
  • The AI talk for India has taken pace after G-20 summit in Osaka in Japan, when the Prime Minister of India underscored the significance of Digital Economy & Artificial Intelligence.
  • He emphasized the government’s reliance on the 5 ‘I’s that stand for Inclusiveness, Indigenization, and Innovation, Investment in infrastructure & International cooperation in developing these two areas.
  • The concept of Artificial Intelligence is based on the idea of building machines capable of thinking, acting, and learning like humans.
  • According to Global AI Report 2019, India stood at the ninth position in terms of the number of the AI specialists working in the field. The US, China and the UK topped the list.
  • The top ranked countries in this report have many academic institutes with programs on AI. They have therefore a much greater number of people skilled to do research in the field.
  • India, on the contrary, lacks the opportunities in formal education in data science but is slowly trying to encourage the adoption of AI in educational institutes.
Where does India stand compared to the US & China?
  • Lack of Research: While India produces the second-highest number of engineering graduates, the US and China has more PhD holders.
    • The CSET data showed the number of PhD holders in India is one third of US and one fifth of China in 2016-17.
    • The lack of doctoral programs in India chokes its talent pipeline, further limiting the research output and IP creation.
  • Lack of funding and research opportunities: Around 7% of the total enrolment is pursuing graduation abroad, mainly in the US (2016 data).
    • India fared poorly at the talent flow index measured in the Global AI Talent 2020 report.
    • India’s ability to retain its talent stood at -0.32 as opposed to US and China’s -0.28 and +0.38, respectively.
  • Lags behind in Patents registered: India still lags considerably behind countries, including Taiwan, the UK, Germany, South Korea, and Japan, and has a long way to go before it catches up with the US or China.
Way forward:
  • India has a unique opportunity at this moment. Using the talent available within the country, it can repeat the success story of IT industry.
  • At the same time, if necessary, steps are not taken in time, it will lose the opportunity.
  • AI can help in the major programmes of the Government viz. Digital India, Make in India, and Skill India.
  • In order to accelerate development of AI technology and its applications, it is necessary to take steps for Applications & Infrastructure Development, Policy & Regulations, Research & Development and Human Resource Development.

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