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Tuesday, 12 June 2018

The Hindu Editorial: AI Garage?

Mahendra Guru
Title: AI garage? 

(To realise India’s potential in the field, a strong buy-in from policymakers is needed) 

Context:- The NITI Aayog has published an ambitious discussion paper on kickstarting the artificial intelligence (AI) ecosystem in India. AI is the use of computers to mimic human cognitive processes for decision-making. 

The paper talks of powering five sectors — agriculture, education, health care, smart cities/infrastructure and transport — with AI. It highlights the potential for India to become an AI ‘garage’, or solutions provider, for 40% of the world. 

To pull this off, India would have to develop AI tools for a range of applications: reading cancer pathology reports, rerouting traffic in smart cities, telling farmers where to store their produce, and picking students at high risk of dropping out from school, among them. 

The NITI Aayog does not talk about how India’s ambitions will be funded, but proposes an institutional structure to get things going. This structure includes a network of basic and applied research institutions, and a CERN-like multinational laboratory that would focus on global AI challenges. 

These are lofty goals, but they beg the question: can India bring it to pass? In answer, the NITI Aayog offers a sombre note of caution. India hardly has any AI expertise today. The paper estimates that it has around 50 top-notch AI researchers, concentrated in elite institutions like the IITs. Further, only around 4% of Indian AI professionals are trained in emerging technologies such as deep learning. 

Among successes, a recent study found that a Google neural network correctly identified cancerous skin lesions more often than expert dermatologists did. India, with its acute shortage of specialist doctors in rural areas, could benefit greatly from such a tool. On the other hand, studies have found that AI image-recognition technologies do badly at identifying some races, because the data used to train them over-represent other races. 
Despite these formidable challenges, the scope of NITI Aayog’s paper must be lauded. 

Final Words 
The trick will be to follow it up with action, which will demand a strong buy-in from policymakers and substantial funds. The coming years will show if the country can manage this. 

Title: India re-defines its regional role 

(It is recasting its approach to the Indo-Pacific and building deeper links with continental Eurasia) 

Context:- Recent foreign policy moves by New Delhi indicate an inflexion point. 
Not only has it recast its approach to the maritime Indo-Pacific but as the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit exemplifies, it is also building deeper and more constructive links with continental Eurasia. 

Setting a new tone 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 1 was dominated by four themes that collectively tell us about the evolving foreign policy. 
First, the central theme was that at a time when the world is facing power shifts, uncertainty and competition over geopolitical ideas and political models, India would project itself as an independent power and actor across Asia. 

One of the most important parts of the speech was when Mr. Modi described India’s ties with the three great powers. Russia and the United States were called as partners with whom India has relationships based on overlapping interests in international and Asian geopolitics. 

And, India-China relations were portrayed in complex terms as having “many layers” but with a positive undertone that stability in that relationship is important for India and the world. 

The intended signal to all major capitals was that India will not be part of a closed group of nations or aggregate Indian power in a bloc, but will chart out its own course based on its own capacity and ideas. 

The China factor 
Second, even as China’s rise has undoubtedly increased the demand and space for India to increase its region-wide engagement, India’s role in the vast Indo-Pacific is no longer envisaged as a China-centric one. 

India’s democracy is far more comfortable with a world of diversity than the spectre of a clash of civilisations or great powers locked in ideological contests. 

Third, despite this policy adjustment, India’s approach to the region is not going to be a hands-off policy or one devoid of norms. 

We continued to hear an emphasis on a “free, open, inclusive region” and a “common rules-based” Indo-Pacific order. 

Significantly, Mr. Modi asserted that such “rules and norms should be based on the consent of all, not on the power of the few”. Again, this underscored Delhi’s belief that the normative basis of the region’s future political-security architecture would only find legitimacy if it were based on a consensus among all stakeholders. 

Finally, without mentioning either, Mr. Modi urged both the U.S. and China to manage their rivalry and prevent their “normal” competition from descending into conflict. 

Asia of cooperation will shape this century. So, each nation must ask itself: Are its choices building a more united world, or forcing new divisions? It is a responsibility that both existing and rising powers have.” 

He made it clear that while India would pursue many partnerships “in the region and beyond”, it was not going to choose “one side of a divide or the other” but would remain wedded to its principles and values that emphasise inclusiveness, diversity and of course its own interests. 

Final Words 
Did Mr. Modi’s speech constitute a turning point in India’s foreign policy? As analysts debate this question, the messaging was unmistakable. 

Vocabulary words: 

Cognitive (adj) = Connected with thinking or conscious mental processes (संज्ञानात्मक) 

Pull off (phrasal verb) = To succeed in doing something that is difficult (जीतना) 

Hand-out (noun) = Financial support 

Lofty (adj) = High, elevated (बुलंद) 

Bring something to pass (phrase) = Cause something to happen 

Sombre (adj) = Disappointing, hopeless (निराशाजनक) 

Trip up (phrasal verb) = To make a mistake, or to cause someone to make a mistake 

Lesion (noun) = Wound, injury (क्षति) 

Dermatologist (noun) = A medical practitioner qualified to diagnose and treat skin disorders 

Inflexion (noun) = A change in the form of a word (usually by adding a suffix) to indicate a change in its grammatical function 

Envision (verb) = Imagine as a future possibility (कल्पना करना) 

Outlast (verb) = Live or last longer than (बहुत अधिक चलना) 

Chart out (phrasal verb) = To establish a plan, method, or course for something 

Portend (verb) = Be a sign or warning that is likely to happen (संकेत मिलना) 

Lingering (adj) = Lasting for a long time or slow to end 

Crusade (noun) = A vigorous campaign for political, social, or religious change 

Devoid (adj) = Entirely lacking or free from (रहित) 

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