Artificial Intelligence & Socio-Economic Impact On Indians

[Abstract– I am not deriding the good intentions of our past and present Indian Ruling Elites who have with the Big Capitalists, politically and economically governed our country within their limitations with some pride and commitment since 1947. And I am no committed die-hard Marxist either. In this paper I am merely asking if our planning, evaluations & reviews of investments made in education, employment and human capital from tax payers’ money over the years till now (especially since 1991) been judicious enough to warrant comfort in future outputs. Inviting my readers to do a self (mental) due diligence of achievements and the progress made in our country in the past few decades as I do, all I am asking is if, given the commitments radiating among our warring political parties under an archaic political system, the future of our grandchildren safe enough? Or, given they will not join the emerging lumpen elements, ought we to plan their migration to as bizarre countries as Taiwan, China, South Korea?]

 

“Bureaucracy served Man well in the past. But the nature of Work has changed and management must change for us to survive. Our goal is to move from a bureaucratic model that is focused on maximizing compliance to one that is focused on maximizing contribution”Management Guru Gary Hamel, speaking on Humanocracy at an Open Interactive pop up on 18th February 2021.

 

Key Words- Artificial Intelligence (AI): Quick Response Time (QRT): Indian Ruling Elite: Citizens of India: Human Cognitive Systems: Kai Fu Lee (AI Speech Recognition Specialist): PRIP (Personal Revenue Improvement Program): ‘Mai-Baap’ Culture: Future of Work: Useless Class People Management: Liberalisation-Privatization-Globalization (LPG).

Introduction

I remain an ever peaceful, committed Indian citizen but observing what is happening around me with some justified disdain. Without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the readers, I am apprehending our Rulers have misplaced priorities built on traditional economic models without sound understanding of current economic reality as opposed to economic models. This economic reality primarily hinges on the energy levels of the thinking & deciding forces seamlessly being transferred through Quick Response Time management onto the energy levels of the implementing forces that is, citizens of India. From what I observe, I find our deciding forces lack domain knowledge. Indian governments have traditionally had a smaller reach into the deep interiors of the country. Despite the goodness in atmaviswas and atma-nirbharta, as per AIMA webinar of 10th June 2021 on “Leadership Speak”, 1/5th of Government jobs, 1/3rd of HC Judges and 1/4th of Supreme Court Judges are still vacant. The discussion did not consider shortages in other critical jobs such as primary teachers, health caregivers, doctors etc. This is just one of many Gaps.

Imagine dear Reader, you are the one sitting in the picture, wondering how faster the Future is than you think. The manner Artificial Intelligence (AI) is progressing under the USA, China and even European Ruling Elite patronages makes us in India sweaty passengers in this puzzling journey.  Not that AI is naturally great for Homosapiens. But unless we produce indigenous AI suitable for Indian conditions, we may get swept off by a newer and very vicious form of Neo-Capitalism under the global LPG political economy. Covid pandemic has shown us the swiftness with which economic activities are impacted to wrench happiness from ordinary people-as for example the migrant labourers. With all its good intentions, if the critical mass is not formed, can the GoI assert such catastrophe will not recur? Governments are not to do damage control but forecast, plan socio-economic programs, evaluate and offer newer, innovative techniques to resolve basic problems.

Data is the new Oil in current Market Competition

The House of Bajaj has swept aside Chinese competition in Africa and elsewhere for the two wheeler market. This is a fantastic achievement by an Indian Business House committed to Nationalistic aspirations. But in China, with vast amounts of available data, even bicycles have sensors capturing data. More data, better AI operates. Data is the new oil, plethora of which enables algorithms (AI) to better and quicker predict behaviour. In China, internal incremental human capital management is in full swing. For example, 500 personal features on credit worthiness of a prospective borrower are searched by enabled AI within 8 seconds. China has progressed from a laggard in early 2000s into a leader in AI enabled facial technology; discouraging Jay walking on streets; integrating social credit programs based on high loyalty bonus. This was initiated by the government authorities and enables citizens to avail of discounts in bus/train fares. A low social credit number can lead to a travel ban incidentally! What better way of integrating vast, almost unmanageable community behaviour! Such demonstration effects are few and far between in India.

In China high commercial quality facial recognition takes less than a 100 mili- second; jay walking offenders are shamed in public and with facial recognitions, fined as well. All this is happening in public– for the people to witness and unlearn negative behaviour syndromes inimical to community behaviour. In India our police and Ancient Corporation systems with a sluggish legal structure, are yet to customise such modern best practices. In our country in order to produce, we need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing. In my lovely country money is flowing to men who deal not in goods but in favours. We have leaders many of who have grown by graft and by pulls and the Laws of the Land don’t protect me against them but protect them against me. I am seeing for the past six decades that corruption is being rewarded in every field of human endeavour and honesty becoming self-sacrifice. Am I to then assume my Society is doomed?

And yet, the Indian Peoples are gentle and very obedient by nature- which is in sync with that spirit of divinity that tickles their psyche every now and then to the merriment of the Indian Ruling Elite. Why is our government not displaying its prowess in demonstrating the good intent of AI and thus mentally prepare the peoples to a more organized livelihood few years away? Many questions beg to be asked.

Indian Ruling Elite and Chinese Ruling Elite

My apprehension is the Indian Ruling Elite is an intelligent lot of highly confused bull-shitting PRIP oriented bumbling power brokers, least far-sighted in their Mission and Vision for a better India. When the push comes to a shove moment, they will recreate what they have done since 1947-hastily bring in welfare/subsidy provisions to confuse the people into docility (perpetuating the ‘mai-baap’ culture of the British Rulers). They did this in the 1948 Pakistan invasion into Kashmir; they did this in 1962 when the Chinese intruded into our territory and with the doles of PL480. And they will do it again and again where their ameliorating haste measures will make more waste for the country. This Indian Ruling Elite, I fear, is least bothered on Nationalistic Aspirations and more concerned with perpetuating its hegemony over the mystified Indian Peoples. Amongst themselves our dainty Ruling Indian Elites driven by their limited moth-eaten political dispensations and still in their “koi hai?-: topee pehnao” thought processes, are fighting it out under the sacred Constitution, for their pieces in the governance (quicker money, more show of power) pie. Like the proverbial Slow Elephant, they are immune to understanding the giant strides made by American & Chinese Artificial Intelligence. G.K. Chesterton’s observation “more people are seeing than weighing in this world”, rubs off well on this Class of self-seekers.

Sinovation in Beijing began in 2007 aided by New China Venture Capitalists and augmented by US educated businessman entrepreneur Kai-Fu-Lee, who by the way, specialized in Speech Recognition. Today China leads the world in e-Commerce and will catch up with USA in military might. Now this cannot be ignored because catching up with the USA implies China will be dominating world trade, commerce and diplomacy, for good or bad. Unless India becomes an independent AI Powerhouse on her own terms, India’s role will be confined to the traditional subservient to USA second fiddle ally. How long can a Nationalistic aspiring Indian sustain such morbid hangovers?

Through their theatrical display of limited interests, are our Indian political parties demonstrating slothful and unhurried evolution of their very own collective thoughtlessness in galvanising the unprecedented youngest ever population with requisite fire for their bellies?  In 2005 Singapore’s late PM Lee Kuan Yew had described Indian youth more competitive to enjoy bigger growth than China? He had subsequently withdrawn his observations based on his assessment of the stupidity of the Indian government in enforcing discipline into the national ethos.

Today, in 2021 has that demographic advantage converted into a demographic dividend? Or is it that due to lack of proper timely investments in human capital (education, employment ignored; while multifarious corruption encouraged) – this advantage has turned into a national scourge? Do we lack the appropriate Leader? Would Subhas Bose been a better leader of Men, MONEY AND Materials than Nehru and would Shastri ji, had he lived on, been better on the 3Ms than Indira Gandhi? Could they have altered India’s tryst with destiny substantially?

The reader can agree or disagree with me but I do believe we owe an explanation to our children and grandchildren even as thousands of luckier such children of the higher Gods in our country get vaccinated to go abroad for higher studies.

We need to conduct due diligence on the values currently being created in operating the cheapest data rates in the world by almost 700 million internet users in India. Official fibre connectivity is being established in all villages of 16 States by BharatNet under a PPP mode. Good news IF we are intelligently bridging the gap between governments and citizens. But are the Indian youth thus mobilised data hungry enough in an emerging AI enabled policy environment?  My apprehension is that as time progresses under these self- aggrandizing regimes of bureaucrat-politicians; India may actually be missing the wood for the tree. Are our half-baked rulers assuming that AI ENABLED environment will auto create solutions for water availability, health care and agricultural productivity?  Assume for a moment of incredulity that the present government will give way to another different government in 2024; will that ruling newer dispensation and the disposed off former rulers be at logger-heads for 6 more years or will our data hungry young entrepreneurs under a proactive “AI enabled policy environment” finally invest innovatively to improve QLI and Quality of Living? Or will this present quagmire of maximum government and minimal governance last till 2047, making us economic vassals of the USA and China as we seem to be heading?

Because, if the future is faster than we think we must consider such grim situations!

The Need for Nationalistic Aspirations

If our rulers do not pull up their socks within a few years of this Covid pandemic, by 2030s India may be moving with a begging bowl or be controlled by one or both super powers in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. By 2 Super Powers I mean the American Tech Sector and the Chinese Tech Sector. We may become guinea pigs for their AI experimentations even as their citizens enjoy relatively better civic covers. We are thus pushed into an awe-inspiring supercilious Animal Farm!

Who are taking the decisions for India’s Future? Our confrontational legislatures and cantankerous parliament are doing so ably assisted by the bureaucracy.  Misplaced love for India i.e. Bharat (“this is my India”) with the already very evident under-developed psychological maturity of our brawling political parties (supported by different Business Houses in their greater interests- each with its own version of fraught “Nationalism”) may actually be creating insoluble socio-economic complications for our Peoples. Our Ruling Elite must get their acts together because this may be a defining moment in 21st century Indian History. Alternatively in contrast to the opportunities lost since 1947; this younger generation may not be quite as silent spectators to sustained national mayhem.

Look around dear erudite reader and you will agree our system is feeding an under-developed, uneducated population that has no mass energy. You visit USA, China, Canada, New Zealand and the Scandinavian countries and you will visibly see the mass energy in their civic lives. The behaviour of our youthful brigade does not elicit within me emergence of a breed of socially conscious and progressive future product managers, data scientists, designers and software engineers together committed to nationalism. This is primarily because the wrangling leaders we have (with, I daresay, a dithering, self-subservient Media) are NOT at all aware they need to innovatively demonstrate the spirit of entrepreneurship into our underpowered peoples. Community directed activities can and will leverage technology capabilities and create that critical mass. Much more can be achieved if we are pumped in with what Dr. Kalam shared “fire in the belly” approach.

Given their abysmal poor psychological ages, I apprehend that within the next two decades, the Indian Political Classes may have run out of ideas on how to do justice to “maximum governance; minimum government”. Instead we may have emerging unpredictable forms of governance based on misplaced more divine priorities leading to a unique blend of ‘integrated community behaviour’ hubs in India!

Future of Work

Way back in 2018, a few Thought Leaders Icons of the AI movement had re-assembled to share ideas on the Future of Work. It was a “Woodstock Moment” for these Icons of AI.  Jaron Lanier, the pioneer in Virtual Reality, who had subsequently (it seemed to me) become somewhat more disdained than enthused with the future, asked “what are we doing in this reality?” Another Icon, Jony Zve wondered if it would be bizarre NOT to be secretive on the emerging iPhone. Jeff Bezoes founder of Amazon stated “all will be well in the New World.” But beneath the positives there was lurking suspicions in the minds of all these stalwarts that you just have to TRUST Artificial Intelligence. It was like getting a pet Anaconda into your house and hoping it would not get entangled with your breathing processes a few decades later.  That decade has now arrived, is what I am trying to express in this article.

Kai Fu Lee, the maverick Chinese who is the father of Chinese AI movement states there is no fear that AI will be enslaving Humans. 50% of jobs will be somewhat or extremely threatened by AI in next 7 years. Lee’s 40 investments in AI have not adversely impacted labour. In his CNBC interview “Betting on AI” a few years ago, Lee had asserted more than blue collar jobs; AI would be intruding into white collar jobs. Jerry Kaplan, Computer Scientist and Entrepreneur, asserts AI has already eaten into jobs such as Telephone and Elevator operators, Secretaries, Travel Agents and Data Entry Operators.  AI would eat into software related quantitative analytical processes, jobs of reporters, traders, tele-marketing, and customer services- all of which can be replaced by Software. Kai Fu Lee goes on to explain that history has never been very polite to Man. History underwritten by decisions of our well meaning but confused Indian Ruling Elite for more than 7 decades, is only as trustworthy as we behold from multiple recurring repetitive patterns of events initiated by our feuding State & Central Warlords which belie the accountabilities of the positions they command. And productivity wise we are well below the high standards set by USA/China.

Unlike in China, USA and other technologically advanced societies, the revolutionary impact of AI is not being realised by the vast mass of Indian Peoples. We are more mired with poverty, hand to mouth existence, and many village children still have to meander though leopard infested jungles to reach their schools and their parents the health care hospitals. Unlike most other advanced societies, the Indian Peoples never experienced the magnitude of three previous inventions either- the steam engine, electricity and computer revolution. The fact that the mass of Indian Peoples are still consciously separated from the reality of Artificial Intelligence is an act of hara-kiri imposed upon them by a very obtrusive Ruling Elite. This is precisely because, unlike the other three inventions which changed the human landscape, AI will be replacing the human cognitive thinking processes altogether. And like the Bumble Bee, the Indian Ruling Elite fails to comprehend the magnitude of this reality. In their confusion and bewilderment, the Indian Elite are more interested in fighting among themselves for scoring brownie points- much like the Warlords did in China from late 1920s till 1949.

It is also a fact we just do not need to be ‘actively around’ as AI activities take place! In 2014, two researchers, Carl Frey & Michael Osborne in Oxford University, poured through US Labour statistics on vulnerable job losses due to AI and automation over a specified 6 year time period, and concluded 47% job losses! In fact US productivity and median household income from 1939 to 2017 indicate a rise in productivity with stagnancy in median household incomes from 1984 onward.

Homosapiens and Technology have always had dubious relationships since the advent of the Industrial Revolution. The European Wars, WWI & II, Korean, Vietnamese Wars, Afghan Wars with various suppressions of internal dissents have all been aided and abated by vicious and sinister utility of modern technology. The drones are a recent example. Will the self-serving Indian Ruling Elite out of compulsion use AI for such heinous crimes in future?

Trust also never begets trust in human history. Lord knows why or how but 21st Century Homosapiens are sitting on a volcano, beneath which their imbecile leaders have planted the deadliest armaments that can reduce Planet Earth to a heap of ash any moment. And AI can penetrate into this sanctum sanctorum with ease better than human cognitive systems!

In the final analysis, it is the Lord’s Will. Hare Krishna!

The Indian Problem

Covid may have highlighted only the tip of the iceberg- poor health care systems. The economic damage with almost two years of non productivity may have torturous other consequences. Additionally, the pandemic has highlighted the mental agony of a vast mass of devastated people. The rich have gone richer; the poor have become poorer. By 2023, the future that is faster than we think may show us we have become like the stray Indian dogs in international LPG transactions- fed out of kindness by few of our global allies. My question is if, over the past few decades India has in any manner formed that critical mass of organized data intelligence are the signs visible on the national landscape? And are the Indian Peoples, like their Chinese and European counterparts, realising the impact of these impending changes?

This needs analysis. India needs demonstrated actions in civic life and not articles, papers and thesis pining away the sad state of affairs such as this instant article. We are facing a management problem. This world is not going to recognize the 2nd best in AI technology. The people of India have aspirations to move from poverty to middle class status. Displacement of labour with advanced technology is creating a huge Useless Class that Noah Harari cautions has to be managed effectively for their needs even as their behaviour is regulated. However if their disruptive behaviour throws caution to the winds; if the Useless Class (in billions) display their wants(aspirations) more than their needs (inspirations); then even recourse to Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence will not provide the governance solution. Indeed, then the Indian Ruling Elite will have to take on a different role-play inimical to the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles enshrined in our great Constitution. Playing by the rule book then will not be an easy task. Tough times indeed!

I sincerely wish the very best to our policy/decision makers. Governing a huge economic geography such as India is no easy task. It needs conscious efforts, sometimes with doses of foul tasting medicines. Because as we continue to live in the comfort of our rat-holes seeing the limited sky, we see a few principal issues grappling the living of our peoples:-

  • Soil erosion/conservation? Climate changes?
  • Drying up of rivers and destruction of river embankments?
  • Unemployment? Decrepit health care systems?
  • Outdated education systems?

We desperately need armies of dedicated citizens who can enthuse and nourish the struggling rural parents, aspiring youth, hapless babies and emaciated farmhands, migrant labour in towns/cities & in the deep interiors. This is a definition of demonstrable actions at the ground-level. I have never witnessed urban students being taken for education and cultural tours into rural hinterlands.

Or is it that the Indian Politicians and Bureaucrats expect a spontaneous human reaction as the system introduces AI technology into the environment? How will human behaviour be managed under rapid expansion/effusion of AI related activities? Are our teachers adequately aware of the Digital India Initiatives to encourage the students in the right direction? Or is it that our teachers have also ‘given up’ on the system that penetrates into our village economies only in spasms? For India, as with any other changing system anywhere else, better change will never fall from the skies. It has to come from appropriate better social practices.

The Sounds of Music radiating from AI

As I write on impact of Artificial Intelligence, it seems to me the people of India may have actually culturally died 30 years ago. We need not be factually alive anymore because Artificial Intelligence (AI) with its abilities for pattern recognition, language and computer vision, have already far surpassed human ability to spot weak links in large data. In fact, if experts are to be believed, we have reached a stage in algorithmic development where AI will tell us the questions we need to ask! We can now see the larger picture quicker as any Big Data enthusiast will confirm to you dear reader. Thinking out of the box and without bias becomes easier. AI thus breaks the human cognitive system that we have been using so far. In such an environment, how shall we people-manage the newer environment? But the wily Chinese may have a better plan!

With the need for Indian Peoples’ direct participation in an AI enabled Digital Platform not required; a total paradigm shift is around the corner. These gains are more than what the Ambanis, Adanis, Mahindra and Bajaj Indian conglomerates and their supplicants can ever ask for…I say so because the current AI utilities are not aligned to benefitting the peoples of the world but mainly technology. Technology belongs to the people with Money, honey!. There are many gaps to analyze in our emerging environment.

AI means behavioural predictions which imply we are grappling with market uncertainties. The sense of inevitability of things becoming better all the time is so intoxicating that the IOT enabled Google, Face book, Cambridge Analytics had cashed in to take liberal advantage sometime ago. Will AI Surveillance Systems get smarter? Do we have full alacrity to determine our future or is it that we are drifting toward a state where we have no options? Nicholas Thomson, Editor of the “WIRED” explained our future succinctly:”One major worry is the world splitting into two Sectors where the Third World gets to choose this or that. And this is not a World that is good for anybody”.

Conclusion

Yes, what I am saying is much as the Industrial Revolution (Steam engine, Electricity and the Computer Revolution) did to our “e=mc2” moonstruck forerunners’ thinking processes; AI will go many steps further in that it will altogether replace the human cognitive processes! If this happens in India (is it already occurring?), then the question justifiably arises what will happen to the huge, huge mass of peoples, the “Useless Class” defined by Yuval Noah Harari? Are we preparing requisite people management instruments to confront such life-changing inevitability?

My point is not to strike panic but to seek awareness in the minds/actions of our great Rulers and ostensibly the kind reader of this article of mine, on the emerging NPA we are creating among the huge masses of Indians. Unless we judiciously plan our Way Forward with Road Map, Milestones and PERT efforts to make India the Third Power in the World to reckon with, we are in for the worst of times perhaps? Our Ruling Warlords’ in-fighting for political control of Lutyen’s Delhi may become indelibly smudged with even more vicious meaningless intrigues to perpetuate sufferings of the Indian Peoples. Strangely enough, in our current 21st century LPG global environment, Power has can never grow from the barrel of a gun. It can come from the brains of a hacker also!

A Sedate Marine Drive in Mumbai with few members of the Useless Class

Prof. Partho S. Sengupta from fringes of Calcutta! Behavioral Sciences Area/Master - NLP Trainer/Practitioner; Former Member - Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC); The writer can be reached at [email protected]

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1 Comment

  1. says: Kumar Gaurav

    Sir, nice article. However I still believe in the agency of human over technology. The technological determinism of human fate will be rejected in due course, when we would get access to the real source of knowledge that lies inside us all. The era has begun, upheavals will proliferate and resistance widen. We will be succeed in making use of AI in our collective favor of the society than it serving such Personal Revenue Improvement Agenda of the few handful that are antagonistic to the collective social benefit.
    Like many others I was shoked by that rape and burning incident of that lady on scooty in Andhra Pradesh in 2019. I imagined a solution as to how AI on Google maps could mark certain pathways and pockets as not women-friendly (like those alcohol shops truck driver congegration on Natioanl Highways- this horrible incident took place there only). In Mumbai also I observed that certain pockets had flats and rela estate properties priced at lower rate for rent or buying not for the reason that they lacked in any infrastructure or amenities compared to the adjacent pockets priced relatively higher. But for reasons of incidence of crime, violence and regressive social fabric of certain communities. I came to know by speaking to local people there. But a lady on vehicle traversing unknown terrains could be guided by Google maps not only on traffic but also areas that are not women-friendly and largely manned by toxic masculine culture. I have to say that without mincing my words because that is a stark naked reality.

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