'AI not only for elite': N Chandrasekaran feels teaching digital easier than math, reading and writing

The Tata Sons chairman addressed fears that surround new technology like artificial intelligence.

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The top boss said that AI has to belong to all individuals, all groups and sections of society.
Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran feels artificial intelligence (AI) is the way ahead for businesses.

Giving the keynote address at an event in Mumbai last month, the 56-year-old Chandrasekaran spoke about how a good economy should be built. “If you want to move forward, we have to take people along, involving everyone in the process that will change their lives,” he said.

“AI is for everyone. We have to remove the halo effect of AI and the misconceived notion that it is only for the elite…only for the literate. It has to belong to all individuals, all groups and sections of society. As we start the 20s and look at a blank slate, think about the capabilities we have today and the opportunities these capabilities afford us.”


Chandrasekaran, as many call him, gave an example of how one of the Tata Group companies was using technology. In Tata Steel, he said, they used smartwatches to track the safety, health and the productivity of workers.

“Teaching digital is much easier than teaching math, reading and writing,” he said. “The word AI should become a very common word. These factors may look daunting, but they are not.”

He even offered ways to make this a reality. “We don’t have to look at digital approaches — AI, machine learning — simply as driving efficiency, cost cutting, profit-enhancing exercises. They have to augment human capital. And they have to augment every person…Tech applied deliberately can solve problems and lead to more jobs,” he said.
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Chandrasekaran also stressed the importance of targetted training and re-training. Giving the example of the software revolution that India had led in the past, he said, “We can do it again and do it better. We need a counter narrative to AI taking over jobs. We need a narrative supported by facts and the belief that the fourth industrial revolution technologies will be the thing that India and other developing countries need, to address intractable problems of access that has alluded us so far.”

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