We can already see the future…According to Accenture’s Technology Vision Consumer Survey (www.accenture.com), 52% of us now have a daily dependency on technology, and we spend an average of 6.4 hours a day locked to our screens and phones: over the course of a lifetime that’s 21 years four months, which is nearly as long as we spend sleeping.

And, unsurprisingly, this trend has been turbo charged by the disruptions of COVID. Over the course of ten short months in 2020, Digital Technologies advanced by a decade, which didn’t just make it harder to tear teenagers away from their iPhones (although it did that too): unprecedented times have also profoundly changed the way we do business, intensifying digitisation of global supply chains and innovating a slew of new products and services. Think Zoom, Amazon and Netflix. 

So emerging technologies in India are no longer an optional extra to reduce costs: according to McKinsey (www.mckinsey.com) they have become a “critical component” of businesses and economies across the world… McKinsey are right, and at the heart of this maelstrom of change India has become a trailblazer in the Brave New World of innovation.

Emerging Technologies in India – AI For All

The subcontinent launched its “AI for All” Strategy as long ago as 2018 (www.niti.gov.in), recognising the key stake the fastest growing large economy in the world has in the AI revolution as well as the seismic potential of AI itself to transform economies across the planet. The programme sets out a solid foundation for research and development in emerging technologies, a basis for creation of a successful AI ecosystem and a collaborative network of experts and stakeholders across all four corners of India. 

All of which has started to bear fruit in the intervening three years.

In Bangalore (predictably) AI enabled technology has been developed to screen for early signs of breast cancer; hospitals in Tamil Nadu are using Machine Learning algorithms to scan for diabetic retinopathy as a response to a local shortage of ophthalmic specialists and, COVID again, MyGov (www.mygov.in) has been using an AI enabled Chatbot to enhance communications across the countrywide Citizen Engagement Platform.

In collaboration with businesses and service providers, Machine Learning and AI are giving key insights to help predict user events and future behaviour: disease prevention becomes better (immeasurably better) by tapping into lifestyle decisions and core demographic features.

The subcontinent also now has AI based solutions in crucial water management strategies, crop insurance and pest control: using image recognition drones and intelligent monitoring of irrigation systems to increase yields and improve harvest quality, so India’s rural poor can expect to benefit immeasurably. ICRISAT (www.icrisat.org) has developed an AI based power sowing app that can increase yields by up to 30%.

And that’s not all…

Blockchain

A Joint Report issued last month by the World Economic Forum and Chainlink found Blockchain has the power to “unlock the hidden values of legacy digital systems” and highlighted in particular the success of India’s Crop Insurance Scheme: providing coverage and financial support for farmers affected by natural disasters, Blockchain is enabling greater scheme transparency and accountability, as well as essential security of information. Smart Contracts have become a ready-made answer to age-old problems, and that’s not something that’s been lost on the Indian Government.

Earlier in 2020 the National Institution for Transforming India (a Government body) released its report examining the role and potential of Blockchain across a full spectrum of public activities, including commerce, social engagement and public sector initiatives. The paper seems set to have the same impact on the future of Blockchain (not just in India but worldwide) as “AI for All” had on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

A Vital Agent for Change

So all in all, this looks like being Blockchain’s year and it’s starting up: not just because emerging technologies in India do things faster there and more reliably, but because they are a vital agent for change…rethinking and reimagining our future across the board.

Executive Overview

There are times when the World suddenly takes a new direction, and that’s true too in the uncertain times we’re living through at the moment: emerging technologies are rapidly evolving to change the way we all live, work and do business.


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Suchit Punnose

Author Suchit Punnose

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