As I like to stay updated about the latest advancements in science, I often shift from watching Nag-Nagin movies to equally informative documentaries about alien visitation.
As I see “UFO experts” and “ancient alien theorists” struggle to prove that aliens have impacted the growth of human civilisation, I feel sorry for them, as they are missing the obvious.
The more I look at policy-making in India, especially linked with science education and administration, I strongly feel that if there is a proof of alien interference in Earthly matter, this is it.
If you are an alien race looking at Earth since last two hundred years, you are bound to get worried about the pace at which humanity is advancing with science and would surely like to slow it down. So, what better than ensuring that one-fifth of humanity is prevented from pushing the envelope?
If I use Sherlockian logic of once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth, I am forced to look at India’s tryst with science to be influenced by ill-intending aliens, as no nation of earth can produce such absurd and self-damaging policies, remain poor and backward after having finest brainpower and not realise it.
Till last year, my favourite alien intervention was early removal of biology from the curriculum of those who are expected to become engineers. As biology is undoubtedly ‘The Highest Form of Engineering’ found on the planet, it makes perfect sense that India should ensure that its future engineers must not learn it.
Now I have found another policy-gem not as brilliant as biology-attrition but more potent to ensure our backwardness for at least next hundred years.
For some strange reason, India can’t see what is obvious to the rest of the world, i.e. Artificial Intelligence is the inevitable future that every nation worth it’s salt must take with the greatest seriousness possible.
As I am engaged with younger kids, especially those with Facebook profiles claiming titles like “founder” and “co-founder”, I see a huge disaster ahead.
India seems to have left AI to kids!
I see hundreds of kids running around with “proof of concepts” of AI ideas, getting celebrated in media and creating a buzz.
The bitter truth is, 99% of these AI ideas that are hitting headlines are nothing but simplistic application of free algorithms available on the internet. The ideas “developed” by most of the start-up kids are amateurish efforts that are light years away from becoming real products that can be monetised.
Though there is a lot of activity in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI & ML) startup space, I see a big shakedown ahead as frustration will start creeping in amongst the kids because scaling things up is near impossible.
I already see Gates and Zuckerbergs of the world rubbing hands with glee as great Indian startup wave will work as a sieve for them to find real and tested talent, and more interestingly, it will be kids who would have failed in doing business in India and would like to blame it on Indian systems.
Flying out of India will give them closer and even a sense of revenge leading them to work hard abroad to prove a point.
If that is not a scenario nightmarish enough, as AI will sweep the globe, India will be needing it in a big way and thus will gift its jugular vein (yet again) to foreigners to enter into a new age of enslavement.
If this is not a doomsday scenario for a nation, I don’t know what is.
I would like to beg to Indian policy-makers to wake up and understand AI & ML space. It is not a place to play games with for a nation. If real AI development is to take place, it will need BIG players and a firm commitment by the state, as shown in China.
The AI dice is already loaded against us as there are already REAL BIG players with a stranglehold on the sector. Even the largest corporate of India is nothing compared to the Googles, Facebooks and Amazons of the world. So, sending our kids to fight this existential war is akin to sending an infant armed with a child-safe toothpick to take on Goliath army armed with nukes.
AI & ML is a space for the might of the state to take up, just as we see China doing. One small advantage we have is being able to generate a huge amount of data that can drive the growth faster if we try hard enough.
We need an Indian state to support AI by becoming a living lab and encourage large corporate players to explore opportunities.
I also plead to all reasonably large corporate players to start looking at AI space actively instead of waiting on the sidelines to see where it all flows. We have bright kids but they are never going to be able to monetise ideas on their own. There are a lot of midsize opportunities that can work with the right kind of investment from you. We don’t always need to hand over our nation on a platter to foreign companies.
My next plea is to the young kids. Get real and wake up from your illusion of getting an insane valuation for your ideas as the hype that is making you feel high is from those who don’t understand the sector. Please realise that every serious player in AI space knows what you are doing and what it is worth.
India is facing a real threat, so I hope our policy-makers re-strategise and reorient the sector by making it more large-player friendly instead of focusing on kids only.