The mixed reception to artificial intelligence in India

11 November 2019 4 min. read

Investment in artificial intelligence (AI) might be on the rise across the Indian market, although few of these investments are part of broader AI strategies, according to new PwC analysis. The report also delves into the debates around ethical and other risk factors that emerge through the progress of AI. 

The progress of AI across India has kept pace with global development of the technology. While other countries such as China and the US have focused their energies on capturing as large a market share of AI as possible, India has focused on becoming an experimental space to explore the potential applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Experts and market watchers are still unsure of AI’s true potential, and the reach that the technology has. Consistent with this is an unfamiliarity with the potential risks involved with the development of AI. Some risks that have entered popular discourse include the loss of jobs and the vulnerability to cyber attacks.

Top AI adoption inhibitors - India

Some have argued that AI will replace jobs, while others have argued that an entirely new breed of jobs will emerge that involves human-AI collaboration. At any rate, the world of AI remains shrouded in uncertainty, and PwC has offered some suggestions on the areas that need work.

For instance, one area that calls for attention is trustworthiness around the use of AI. The decision to use AI for medical procedures, for instance, is one that will raise suspicions, and will need to be treated with a high degree of transparency. Building trust in AI is crucial to ensure that its progress accelerates and generates its true economic potential.

Another area of concern is the fact that AI is easily tampered with. AI functions are designed with a purpose, although a change in input can produce inconsistent behaviour that causes considerable suspicion. The solution is to design a clear purpose for each AI application and endow it with substantial security measures.

Priorities for AI investment

The ethical domain also houses a number of AI debates. PwC describes how AI is being leveraged for an increasing number of selective functions such as recruitment or credit ratings. Although designed to be objective, experts have suggested that the bias of AI operators creeps in to AI functions, while some design flaws might actually result in discrimination. 

"AI-based facial recognition tools have been found to work with significantly reduced accuracy when trying to identify people of colour," reads the PwC report. The last concern raised by the report is one of control, given the applications that AI has in the proliferation of fraudulent and criminal activity.

Outside of these concerns, a number of businesses appear to be investing in AI to extract its economic value. From training staff to work with AI to integrating AI within an increasing number of organisational functions, investment has flowed steadily, although some barriers do exist.

How are investment desisions in technology, such as AI, made

The authors state that the Indian market is different from the global market, in that budget constraints mark the biggest hindrance to AI adoption across the globe, while in India it is amongst the smallest barriers. The biggest cause for concern among Indian businesses is a lack of understanding on how AI can advance business decision-making.

Nevertheless, Indian businesses have made investments in the domain, primarily to increase operational efficiency. However, most investments in the domain are ad-hoc and lack internal coordination. Few businesses have a consolidated AI strategy in place to inform investments.