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(L-R) Mr. Pradeep Udhas, Office Managing Partner- West, KPMG India; Dr. S D Attri, Deputy Director General, India Meteorological Department; Mr. Arun M Kumar, Chairman and CEO, KPMG India; Mr. Rajan Navani, Trustee, Ananta Centre & Vice Chairman and Managing Director, JetSynthesys (Jetline Group of Companies); and Mr. Vishal Kanvaty, Innovation Head, National Payments Corporation of India

The Ananta Centre organized the inaugural session of a series of seminars on ‘Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain for Efficient Public Services Delivery’ (supported by KPMG in India as a knowledge partner) on the 17th of December, 2018, at Taj Land’s End, Mumbai. The seminar comprised of an inaugural session, a session of case-study presentations, as well as a panel discussion with experts in data science and technology.  

Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain are two of the most talked about topics in the field of technology, capable of being both significant enablers as well as disruptors. From education and healthcare to disaster management and agri-sector lending - A.I. and Blockchain will remodel the way we deliver public services to lay-people – faster, more efficiently, more reliably, and in a trustworthy and transparent manner.

It is however of note that most narratives concerned with these innovations focus their attention to specialists and technocrats, and, even though the impact of these technologies will be far-reaching and touch nearly every life, knowledge and understanding about them remains the purview of the few.

It is for this reason that the Ananta Centre decided it was the need of the hour to develop a platform where this kind of highly technical knowledge could be translated and shared with a broader cross-section of stake-holders. And when we are talking about technologies like A.I. – which promise to transform and recreate the way we organize our lives in a fundamental way – we are all stake-holders – this is the fundamental premise behind the organization of this timely series of seminars.

The objective for organizing this seminar was threefold. Firstly, it was to educate and spread awareness regarding emerging technologies so that the widest cross-section of Indians may take advantage of these – so that generalists and not only specialists may be able to comprehend these highly technical issues.

Secondly, our objective was to convene innovators and thought-leaders so that progressive agendas concerning these technologies may be developed and shared widely. In fact, the inaugural programme included a series of case-study presentations designed to highlight the application of A.I. and Blockchain to the betterment of public service delivery – applications which will serve to enhance the quality of life of the many – not just of the few.

Thirdly, with KPMG India as knowledge partner, Ananta Centre plans to publish a white paper highlighting the use of A.I. and Blockchain for efficient public service delivery. These technologies have the potential to transform how governments and social service agencies deliver public services, and Ananta Centre aims to provide a blueprint for the same.

The session saw a healthy turnout and the participants included senior members of the Mumbai business fraternity (including industrialists, financiers, investment bankers, SME-owners and Start-Ups) as well as representatives from the RBI, from NGOs and Non-profits, from technologists and members with an interest in the education and primary sectors.

The session was chaired by Mr. Rajan Navani who gave an engaging talk about the value of embracing innovative technologies such as A.I. and Blockchain, while also highlighting the need to think about the broader social impact of such technologies – highlighting the rise of Society 5.0 – inspired by the new Japanese model of social transformation in the coming decades.

Mr. Arun M. Kumar, CEO of KPMG India, and Mr. Pradeep Udhas, Office Managing Partner-West, KPMG, delivered stimulating talks about the potential application of A.I. and Blockchain to human betterment across multiple dimensions. Their vision of the use of A.I. is a human-centric vision where A.I. would free people from menial work and drudgery and allow them to explore their full creative potential.

Showcasing an aspect of the government’s commitment to pursuing innovative technologies, Mr. Vishal Kanvaty, Innovation Head for the National Payments Corporation of India and Dr. S D Attri, DDG of the India Meteorological Department, both made presentations highlighting the usefulness of A.I. and Blockchain to improving public services delivery – Mr. Kanvaty focused on the application of Blockchain to improving payments portals, while Dr. Attri drew attention to the myriad uses of remote-sensing and machine learning to better predict weather and meteorological conditions.

 

(L-R) Mr. Sahil Ramchandani, Product Innovation Manager, R&I, Analytics & Insights Unit, Tata Consultancy Services; Mr. Saurabh Kumar, Founder and CEO, AgricxLab; Mr. Dipender Bhamrah, Product Manager Jio Blockchain, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.; Mr. Abhinav Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, Fluid A.I.; Mr. Kaushal Jaiswal, Managing Director, Rivulis Irrigation India Pvt. Ltd; Mr. Sagar Joshi, Technology Evangelist, Microsoft Corporation (India) Pvt. Ltd. and Ms. Kalpana B, Partner and  Head, Intelligent Automation, KPMG India


The issues selected for the case-study were those which would have a tremendous impact on India’s socio-economic outcomes – education, healthcare, water, and the primary sector were the principal focus domains. The participants seemed to be energized by these presentations and responded positively and with excitement. KPMG’s Kalpana B. did an excellent job of moderating the session.

The case-study session showcased six interesting applications for A.I. and Blockchain, with the focus of this seminar leaning towards A.I. The fields of application explored were Agriculture (touching upon intelligent irrigation, remote-sensing, agri-lending and sustainability); Medicine and Life Sciences (focusing on Pharma Co-Vigilance or drug-safety-testing); Education (focusing on intelligent interactive app platforms where content is delivered via digital avatars of teachers and influential personalities), and Water (conservation and sustainable management  through A.I.).

The presenters were Mr. Abhinav Aggarwal, Co-Founder and CEO, Fluid A.I. who gave a live demo of their interactive virtual teaching avatar – Warren Buffet; Dipender Bhamrah, Product Manager Jio Blockchain, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. who talked about Blockchain; Mr. Kaushal Jaiswal, Managing Director, Rivulis Irrigation India Pvt. Ltd who discussed the application of A.I. to irrigation; Sagar Joshi, Technology Evangelist, Microsoft Corporation (India) Pvt. Ltd. who made a case for use of data-driven A.I. in water management; Saurabh Kumar, Founder & CEO, AgricxLab whose case study focused on A.I. in agriculture; and Sahil Ramchandani, Product Innovation Manager, R&I, Analytics & Insights Unit, Tata Consultancy Services who presented on A.I. for Pharma Co-Vigilance.

 (L-R) Mr. Govindraj Ethiraj, Founder, Boom & IndiaSpend; Mr. Ashutosh Chadha, Group Director-Government Affairs and Public Policy, Microsoft India; Dr. K V Sreerama Murthy, CEO and Chief Data Scientist, Quadratic Insights Pvt Ltd. and Ms. Gayathri Parthasarathy, Partner and National Head Financial Services, KPMG India

 The final session was the panel discussion with a quartet of accomplished technologists and data scientists. Ms. Gayathri Parthasarathy of KPMG was the moderator and she flawlessly conducted the panel and navigated the complex issues raised by the panel and by the audience. The content of this session was superlative, with special attention being drawn to the question of ethics and morality in the use of cutting-edge technologies, the close connection between human biases and the biases that our machines inherit (Garbage-In, Garbage–Out) and to being careful in differentiating between A.I. as a measured scientific tool and as a marketable catch-all term for faddish new technologies and machine-learning based algorithms – only one definition is ultimately valid.

The panel comprised Mr. Ashutosh Chadha, Group Director-Government Affairs and Public Policy, Microsoft India; Dr. K V Sreerama Murthy, CEO and Chief Data Scientist, Quadratic Insights Pvt Ltd.; and Mr. Govindraj Ethiraj, Founder, BOOM & IndiaSpend.

To conclude, ground breaking advances like A.I., Machine Learning, Neural Nets, Blockchain based on cryptographic protocols, Additive Manufacturing and even the ever-elusive Quantum Computing – these technologies have the potential to fundamentally reshape how our society works and how it is organized. With near-universal applicability, these technologies can be expected to have wide-ranging repercussions in our day-to-day life. To further this conversation is therefore a matter of utmost importance and Ananta Centre is committed to providing an apolitical and unbiased platform for the same. If India commits herself and her vast pool of talent to developing expertise in these emerging technologies, then the India of the future will be a far better place for it – and prosperity is sure to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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