New Delhi: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its potential for the future have become significant topics of discussion within the tech industry. The Tech Today Congress, held in Bengaluru, featured several top industry leaders speaking about AI. Romesh Wadhwani, Chairman of Symphony AI, discussed the responsible use of AI for industry and societal well-being.
In 2018, Wadhwani established Wadhani AI, India’s first research institute dedicated to AI, recognizing that India is now part of the global AI race and faces competition from China and the US. He believes that it is not only a great opportunity for India but also its responsibility to be one of the top three players in AI.
However, Wadhwani acknowledges that becoming one of the top two players in AI may not be achievable for India at this stage. He suggests that India has the potential to be the third leading player globally but emphasizes that it will not happen accidentally. He believes that massive national-scale initiatives are required to apply AI in various governmental programs, similar to how digital transformation has played a significant role in India’s progress in recent years through initiatives like Aadhaar and UPI.
When asked about the need for guardrails in AI, Wadhwani agrees that the world currently requires them. He draws a comparison between AI and atomic energy plants, highlighting the potential for both to cause significant destruction. While atomic energy is easier to regulate due to the high cost of infrastructure, the same restrictions do not apply to AI. Wadhwani points out the concern that well-intentioned companies like Meta have released large language models as open-source, making them freely available to anyone. This poses a risk, as bad actors can manipulate these models with minimal training data, emphasizing the need for regulation and safety measures in AI.
Wadhwani argues that AI should be regulated not only for safety but also for effectiveness and purpose. Limited scientific applications may require a wider license to innovate, but when AI is deployed to millions or billions of people, rigorous validation and testing become imperative.
Regarding the impact of AI on employment, Wadhwani believes that jobs in the agricultural, construction, and blue-collar sectors of manufacturing will be relatively unaffected in the near future. However, he predicts disruptions in white-collar jobs within the IT, legal, financial sectors, and creative communities. The life sciences and healthcare sectors are expected to experience the fastest transformation due to AI, enabling accelerated drug discovery and clinical trials. Wadhwani also suggests that the software sector will witness disruptions as generative AI becomes capable of performing tasks currently done by junior and mid-level software engineers. He advises professionals in these fields to adapt their career plans to leverage AI rather than being disrupted by it.
In conclusion, the responsible use of AI and its potential impact on various sectors of society were key topics discussed by Romesh Wadhwani at the Tech Today Congress. He stressed the need for national-scale initiatives, guardrails, and regulations to ensure the safe and effective deployment of AI, while acknowledging the transformative potential of AI in certain industries and the need for individuals to adapt to these changes.