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‘We need to invest in understanding, leveraging the new technologies’

Aritificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL) are not just jargon bombarding the IT space. They are bringing about a huge transformation among businesses and the society alike. While AI has a positive impact on businesses, it is also seen as a threat to jobs. S Gopalakrishnan, co-founder, Infosys, and chairman, Axilor Ventures, spoke to BusinessLine about the impact of AI on jobs and building a career around the technology. Excerpts:

How do the new technologies transform the society?

In sectors such as healthcare, technology will reduce the need for specialists, and can even enable a robotic surgery. It positively impacts the common man, providing better healthcare in remote areas where specialists are not available.

In financial services, credit rating, or loan applications processing, better customer service or fraud detections can be done by many applications. We need to invest in understanding and leveraging the new technologies to our advantage.

We can also provide better customer service to citizens in vernacular languages and support farmers using AI- and ML-based tools.

How will people adapt to the changing technology?

A good society adjusts to the changing circumstances. We cannot prevent or halt the progress of technology; it can only be slowed down. We need to manage the consequences.

I entered the job market in 1979, which was the start of the computer revolution in India. Since then, we have created four million jobs. IT services today is a $170-billion industry. And, it did not exist before the 1980s.

Is skilling people proving to be a challenge?

While tech-awareness is high, we need to train and retrain people in new technologies. I am very optimistic about the learning ability of our people. Adaptability is one of India’s strengths.

We need to ensure that there the training capacity. Every 5-10 years, a person needs to go through retraining. This is a new phase, but our academic institutions are not prepared, the society is not prepared, and funding is a challenge.

We introduced programming at schools when the digital computer revolution happened. Similarly, we need to introduce AI/ML concepts at schools to start with, followed by programmes at colleges and at research levels.

Will AI/ML create or take away jobs?

The answer is both yes and no. Some jobs will disappear. For example, the job of a loan officer in a bank would be better done by a machine, and only in exceptional cases, human intervention is required. Driver-less vehicles will take away the job of the drivers. However, new jobs will be created. There is demand at all levels in new technologies to create tools and IPs. We need professionals to apply these tools. New business models are emerging.

Can you give some examples of emerging business models?

A BPO company has recruited nearly 3,000 people to certify images in social media. When a person loads a picture to social media, the image is checked to ensure that it is not hurting the sentiments of people, or has pornographic content. Such new jobs are created continuously.

As new technologies come, there will be requirement for people in the area of data cleansing, data massaging and training machines.

Source: The Hindu