Dr. Nilesh Modi, Vice President of Technology & Innovation at Cygnet Infotech, Ahmedabad, served on the panel for ‘Artificial Intelligence - Where Next?’ during the second O2H Innovation Conference moderated by Mr. Prashant Shah, co-founder, O2H, held on 14th March, 2019 at Courtyard Marriott, Ahmedabad.
He served alongside other esteemed panelists from diverse fields and specializations including Mr. Amit Saraswat, Director - ML & AI, Fidelity Investments, Dr. M Muruganant, Executive President & Vice Chancellor, Indus University, Mr. Mark Warne, CEO and Director, DeepMatter Group plc and Mr. Yamin Lawar, Full Stack Developer, O2H.
The conference centered around the exchange of ideas and collaborations for Innovation by bridging the divide between the technical and the non-technical worlds. The O2H Innovation Conference 2019 brought together innovators from diverse fields, communities and backgrounds to exchange ideas. Ranging from technology leaders, academicians, design thinkers, performers to entrepreneurs, scientists and programmers to facilitate Innovation!
The discussion started off simplifying the most commonly used yet misunderstood terms such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Algorithms, Neural Networks and Deep Learning. Setting the tone for the rest of the conference, Dr. Modi and Mr. Saraswat asserted the need to understand that these emerging technologies go beyond one line definitions because of their wide application in diverse fields.
Machine Learning has existed since decades, we have already had, basic Machine Intelligence, ‘Audio, Video’ and the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ had been coined during the mid-50s. The evolution of Artificial Intelligence that we see today is the larger manifestation and sophistication of the ‘good old Machine Learning’.
However, as Dr. Modi, pointed out, human beings are capable of creating miracles like climbing Mount Everest, for instance. It is the transfer of this intelligence and consciousness into a machine through bridging the gap between human and machine intelligence that Artificial Intelligence is all about.
Mr. Shah posed a question to the panel, “How realistic it is to expect AI to mimic a human brain’s intelligence considering that tech giants like Google are investing billions of dollars into ‘Deep Minds’?
Mr. Warne believed that it lets one analyze more data, logic, handle more data than you could usually handle in a shorter time. Mr. Lawar believed that AI is getting the buzz it is since these couple of years due to easy access to hardware such as ‘GPUs’ that can support AI function with ease which wasn’t possible earlier. In addition, the availability and access to huge chunks of data such as those stored on clouds is making it easier for AI powered algorithms to do their work. Moreover, algorithms too have got better. That’s what’s empowering AI innovation such as ‘Sophia’. AI has a realistic future.
Dr. Muruganant who specializes in making predictive patterns as an academician shared that our exploration into AI has been limited which is why we are extrapolating what we know, which was still much limited exploration into AI. There will be more exploration into human systems. We can only crash the numbers we know but exploration beyond what we know still needs to be done.
Carrying this forward, Dr. Modi highlighted the fact that AI has already been integrated into our daily lives. We are living in the era of AI already – on our smartphones and in our daily lives. He envisions a future where AI empowers us through the larger augmentation of human behavior and skills. For instance, Cygnet has created a project for a metro city government in South East Asia where a robust AI powered system is assisting the bridging of the gap between the demand and supply of transportation systems.
“Soft Bank CEO, Masayoshi Son believes that AI will have the IQ of 10,000 by 2047”, Dr. Muruganant pointed out. However, he believed the readiness of hardware available to make this happen will largely determine whether this will stay on paper or become reality.
The discussions further flowed onto busting the myths surrounding emerging technologies and their perceived dangers as posed by fiction writers, the movie industry and the larger world. Dr. Modi believed that Artificial Intelligence is an excellent tool that we need to be positive about. He shared how using Artificial Intelligence enhances user experience and creates simple solutions to complex problems.
Other panelists were divided in their opinion as some agreed it was more of an excellent tool and less of something that we need to worry. Mr. Lawar believed that AI’s potential when it comes to automating weapons is something the world needs to think about. On the other hand, Dr. Muruganant believed it is the core problem of any technology, it is as constructive or as destructive as the one using it – if we develop human value systems better there will be better application.
Technology powers economies through Innovation. It literally changes the way the world works by subtly integrating with our daily lives - the power of technology and innovation. That’s why at Cygnet we believe that ‘IT is about You’.
Echoing this sentiment, Dr. Modi who leads an emerging technology portfolio including Blockchain, AI, Machine Learning and IoT at Cygnet Infotech, quoted Artificial intelligence guru Andrew Ng , ‘’Thinking about how AI will overpower the human race is just like thinking how we are going to solve the problem of overpopulation on Mars.” Tweet This
There will be regulatory concerns in the future but he is largely optimistic about AI since it will augment a lot of our capabilities and make our lives easier.
On the social front when it came to AI taking away jobs, Mr. Saraswat said, “AI is likely to eat away repetitive technical jobs and may make several jobs irrelevant. However, several other niche jobs will come up. It will take away jobs but also create them.”
Taking the point forward Dr. Modi suggested that in spite of machines manufacturing Sarees there is still enough demand of handmade Sarees. Self-driving cars are the future but some people will always prefer human driven cars.
The room was then opened to the emergence of exciting applications using AI. Mr. Saraswat believed that applications powered by AI had been helping investors make better decisions. On the other hand, Dr. Modi felt that AI will revolutionize healthcare industry with positive strides in diagnosis and improving healthcare overall. Mr. Warne added that AI will help in reducing healthcare budget for large populations by making solutions accessible more easily.
Dr. Muruganant shared his insights on using AI for research and business. He believed AI will be helpful in carrying out research, data aggregation and analysis. In business operations, it will make overall processes better. Mr. Lawar then brought the discussion to the role of AI in addressing social issues. He was hopeful that AI will disrupt agriculture which will empower farmers with better productivity and yield.
The panel concluded that there is still much to explore into the realm of Artificial Intelligence. There will be changes in regulations, social norms, accountability and people’s tastes and preferences; however, a future where mankind will be subjugated by machines is unrealistic. In addition, an AI powered future spells progress for economies, mankind and will assist the human race solve complex social and business problems with ease.