Suchit Punnose on the rise and rise of AI adoption in India

AI adoption in India

Suchit Punnose, Founder and CEO of Red Ribbon Asset Management on India adopting AI faster than other major economies.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has always been a potential solution for many of the biggest challenges facing humanity. Sophisticated AI and augmented reality (AR) can be used in so many ways to find answers that we need. And it seems that AI is coming into its own even more since the start of the pandemic.

According to PwC, India reports a 45% increase in adopting AI for the months between March 2020 and December 2020. Other major economies are also using AI more than before COVID-19 arrived, but at a slower rate. For example, over the same time period, Japan reports a 28% increase, the UK a 23% increase and the US a 35% increase.

The pandemic has led to an increased number of companies adopting AI

COVID-19 has become a catalyst for Indian organisations and businesses to adopt AI faster than they otherwise would have done. AI tools are being incorporated into all kinds of projects aimed at solving the challenges of the pandemic.

A collective resolve from the Indian corporate, manufacturing and industry sectors to come together and find ways to combat the pandemic is shown in this adoption of AI. The manufacturing sector, for example, has been reconfiguring traditional ways of working in order to automate the value chain processes.

The Indian Government has also been working with technology companies to work on important projects including contactless thermal screening and contact tracing. These needs have sprung from the pandemic, and because they weren’t necessary before March 2020, companies have had to scramble to find fast solutions. And AI tools are proving extremely useful in this journey towards a new normal.

AI chatbots in India are delivering urgent information and assistance

Currently, of course, India is going through a vicious second wave of COVID-19. There are thousands of daily cases and deaths are rising exponentially. The country is desperate for hospital beds and, crucially, oxygen. But on the AI side, technological experts are utilising conversational AI to ensure people have access to information in real time.

Examples of conversational AI-based chatbots creating this vital resource include CovidIndResBot and Introbot AI.

Introbot AI was founded by engineers Utkarsh Roy and Divyaansh Anuj. They are constantly updating this conversational AI functionality that is based on WhatsApp to repurpose it as a COVID resource. It now acts as a real time helpline bot for people who are desperately seeking help for COVID, whether that’s to find a free bed or oxygen supplies.

Over on Twitter, @CovidIndResBot is the handle for COVIDResourceIndia. Built by students at the School of Accelerated Learning, the bot also helps people find resources, help, medicine and oxygen. All replies are in real-time and based on the most up to date information.

While Chatbots haver traditionally been seen as somewhat of a nuisance for various reasons, COVID-19 has shown that they are massively scalable and extremely useful in a crisis. Other examples of AI-powered chatbots used in India right now include:

  • MyGov Corona Helpdesk – this is also powered by WhatsApp and was built by the National eGovernance Division of the Indian Government. It helps users find a vaccination centre, book in for their vaccinations and also to get rid of fake news about COVID-19.
  • International Fact Checking Network – back in June 2020, a version of this conversational AI was released in Hindi to eradicate fake news about the virus. It’s updated every day with more than 250 fact checks.

Yellow Messenger – this AI powered chatbot works across different platforms and gives information on vaccinations, bed availability, oxygen availability, data collection, insurance information and mental health assistance.

Impressive metrics for AI COVID-related chatbots 

One of the first chatbots to emerge during the pandemic was the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) WhatsApp based app. This highlighted the urgency with which everyone around the world needed an accurate record of all kinds of COVID-related information.

Finding solutions during a crisis of this magnitude is a race against time. Chatbots like Introbot AI show just how much AI is contributing to winning this race. Updates must be maintained in real time across 300 cities, which is obviously a monumental challenge for the team behind the bot. They have so far built one of the biggest medical supply databases in the country, with more than 25,000 medical suppliers. Crucially, they are all verified with the AI weeding out fraudulent claims to help.

So far, Introbot AI has:

  • Linked more than 25,000 people with medical supply information.
  • Ensured that 100% of queries are replied to in less than two seconds.
  • More than 300 cities across India are served by the bot.

And the platform itself was built in just seven days. The speed with which AI solutions are being developed in India is down to unprecedented levels of collaboration between all kinds of businesses. It’s certainly proof that technology can be used as a force for good.

Stakeholders contributing to the rapid use of AI tools to solve the problems associated with the pandemic include the healthcare sector, universities, start-ups and long-standing corporations.

Innovative AI solutions will continue to shape India’s economic recovery 

As for the future, big data, data science and AI will continue to be crucial as India emerges from this second wave. Consumers will expect more from services based on their experiences during the pandemic and will be widely more accepting of digital solutions for all kinds of sectors.

Pre-pandemic there was a push to improve India’s development of AI. For example, in 2017, a Task Force on AI was launched by the Commerce and Industry Department to focus on India’s Economic Transformation. Also before the pandemic, a report from Accenture predicted that AI could add $957 billion to India’s gross value by 2035. This could now be more.

When India finally emerges from the pandemic, there’s no doubt that companies will continue to use AI as part of their post COVID recovery strategy. Large industries and organisations can use it to change the way they work and to support growth into the future. AI systems will use their capacity to learn and adjust to reduce the cost of old and defunct equipment.

For start-ups and entrepreneurs in India, AI allows for a level of scale that can realistically challenge big business. This presents an enormous opportunity for innovative start-ups to make their mark in a way that just wasn’t possible a few years ago. AI could be the great leveller for production and innovation in India. A responsible implementation of AI tech across the board in India will open up new economic opportunities.

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