Tuesday, Mar 19, 2019 | Last Update : 08:06 PM IST

India must balance the rewards and risks of technology in 2019

DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published : Feb 14, 2019, 4:09 pm IST
Updated : Feb 14, 2019, 4:09 pm IST

A look at how the business community should look to govern data, AI, and automation to keep our economy on track.

As 2019 beckons, businesses must take it upon themselves to build on these learning opportunities and minimize the unintended threats that these technologies may pose, as the latter underpins India’s evolution into a digital economy.
 As 2019 beckons, businesses must take it upon themselves to build on these learning opportunities and minimize the unintended threats that these technologies may pose, as the latter underpins India’s evolution into a digital economy.

2018 was a watershed year in India’s commitment to infuse modern technologies into how the economy runs - most notably with $480 million allocated by the central government for AI development this fiscal year. Additionally, the central government fulfilled its promise and rolled out a draft of India’s first data regulatory bill that builds a framework to control data usage that drives emerging technologies in consultation with citizens and industries. But while we are poised to reap many rewards with this digital transformation, the risks of the technology misuse should not be understated. As we saw throughout the year, issues with data privacy and potential threats from AI made the world take notice and create the need of a regulatory framework.

As 2019 beckons, businesses must take it upon themselves to build on these learning opportunities and minimize the unintended threats that these technologies may pose, as the latter underpins India’s evolution into a digital economy. Our journey will hinge on how we govern the use of these technologies as India targets to become a 5 trillion-dollar economy the next five years. Here’s a look at how the business community should look to govern data, AI, and automation to keep our economy on track:

Data regulation and how consumers will reclaim data control

Data is the fuel that runs today’s economy. But even with massive advances in technology, industries are still inadequately prepared to know how and when to safeguard it. This tug of war to own customer data needs to be understood through the lens of the customer’s preferences. Discussions between all the stakeholders including regulators and civil society must happen now before it’s too late. That way, we can develop a democratic model that will drive synergies for all.

Consumers from across the world are already taking action to regain control of their data. Someday, the consumer might even be able to monetize their data by renting it back to data fiduciaries. As a result, they can control when and where their data is used and the AI-based experiences that benefit them.

AI must be transparent and explainable

Artificial intelligence is delivering faster and contextual experiences that are transforming corporates from the core. Governments are not far behind either. They understand how AI can improve constituent-government-business interactions.

But while AI offers enormous rewards, it doesn’t come without risk. AI is often described as a ‘black box’ where users do not always understand how it arrives at certain decisions. The AI models could be prone to learning certain biases in our culture that may deliver unfavorable or unintended results that can be brand damaging or violate regulatory norms. Many industry heads are cautiously adopting AI models to ensure everyone is protected.

With stronger data privacy laws born from rising customer demands, CIOs must adopt AI systems that are fully transparent to all stakeholders. It must be able to explain the logic behind AI decisioning – particularly if something goes astray. In the future, failure to adopt transparent and monitorable AI will mean facing regulatory consequences and customer backlash.

Governing the rise of automated systems

A study by McKinsey reveals approximately 60 percent of occupations globally could see 30 percent of their work automated. But this is not a new trend, as we’ve been through many historical cycles of machines and automation redefining the workplace.

In a world of rising robotic or digital automation, an opportunity of redefining job roles native to humans and machines is again offered to us. Just like in the past, humans today can be freed from the constraints of routine work and focus on tasks that require more cognitive thinking and judicial reasoning, something the machines cannot render today. Businesses need to focus on how automation and machines can work alongside workers to enhance their jobs – not replace them altogether.

This increase in the automation must be proportionately balanced with adequate reskilling, as the cost-realisation from the former can be invested into the latter. A better skilled workforce will help organizations create superior products to lead the market.

Organizations must look at adopting technologies with the long term in mind, rather than derailing them by focusing on short-term payoffs. The rewards and risks of modern technologies must always be accounted. A best way to begin this digital technology journey is to clearly frame a digital strategy before haphazardly deploying any technology. It is incumbent upon all stakeholders – businesses and government leaders alike – to ensure India has this digital foundation in place to ensure success today and in the future. Because digital transformation isn’t just a one-time event – it’s an ongoing journey with no end in sight, and the future of our economy depends on us getting it right.

—By Suman Reddy Eadunuri, MD, Pegasystems India

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Deccan Chronicle and/or other staff and contributors to this site.

Tags: ai, automated systems, risks