The year is 2040. As I enter the “Honda Showroom” to buy my third bike, I encounter “Alexa” at the receiving end. “Welcome to Honda”, Alexa greets in her mechanical voice.
It takes her a second to analyse my face image through the facial recognition system fitted in her metallic eyes. Within few moments of studying my interests, my past buying trends, my web search history, etc. through the intelligent Big Data Analytics software, I was shown the most relevant options I was exactly having in mind the moment I visited the showroom.
Having bought the latest Honda “GenX 250” model, I left the showroom with my latest purchase automatically becoming a part of the dataset of Alexa’s smart software.

Well, intriguing! Isn’t it?
The incident I am talking of here is a fiction, but with the technological developments the world is seeing today, it is very close to the future we all might see. With elevating competition in almost every sector and people searching out for smart moves to outperform their rivals, it won’t be wrong to say that to survive in the near future, you have to be “intelligent”, or to say it better “Artificially Intelligent”.

What is AI?
Artificial intelligence, commonly abbreviated as AI is emerging as one of the fastest-growing industries being recognised globally. Be it the complex defense mechanism of a country or the competition for recruitment among different enterprises, a wide range of companies and sectors have begun to realise the importance of AI technology.

AI in defense:
In the recent past, the US conducted a series of cyberattacks on Iran. India was also seen indulging in a “hack game” with its popular and beloved neighbours posting our tricolour on their websites. Even the terrorist organizations these days have become tech-savvy and even they know how to utilise their social media analytics skills and choosing their targets by accessing their vulnerability. Thus, it would be very apt to say that the future of wars is going to be cyber, and the country with the smartest technology emerging to be the winner.
The security agencies have begun to realise the importance of integrating AI-run models for better fleet management, efficient deployment of forces, and improved analysis of the areas prone to infiltration by enemies. As per the statements of our Army Chief General Vipin Rawat, there is a need for a battlefield management system, which would enable the commander to incorporate and integrate all the information that was available and hence technology becomes very important. Clearly, with our northern border sharers investing a huge chunk of money in incorporating AI and Big Data Analytics in army’s operations, it is an alarming bell for the country to focus more on its technology rather than following the “Import the equipment” policy in its defense sector.
While Chinese AI start-ups are attracting the most of the global investments, the AI investments by the defense sector in countries like US, UK, Russia, and South Korea are also shooting up.
According to data science and analytics firm Govini, The U.S. Department of Defence increased investment in artificial intelligence, big data, and cloud computing from $5.6 billion in 2011 to $7.4 billion in 2016.
The South Korean Super Aegis II machine gun, is also an example of artificial technology advancements which can identify and destruct its targets within a range of 4 km, that too without any human intervention. I wonder the day is not far when we will be having robots fighting our wars on borders, with no bloodshed and a virtual peace.

AI in the retail sector:
Artificial intelligence truly has unfathomable limits with use cases in the areas one might have never thought of. Its growing relevance in the retail sector is exemplary to this notion. In a cut-throat competition to attract a maximum customer base, the next-generation retailers are relying on the AI-driven models and software to fabricate a customised experience for the customers visiting their shops. For example, Woodhouse Clothing, a men’s online fashion retailer, found that its shoppers were 44% more inclined to make a purchase once they introduced AI-based personalization technology.
But the competition the physical retail stores face is not only limited to the other Brick and mortar shops, but the real fight is against the e-commerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart which have already incorporated Machine learning and AI to ensure a customised experience to its customers for over a decade now. However, prognostications say that the retail sector is less to worry if it is able to embrace technological advancements.
Despite a large number of closing of malls and shops, owing to the increasing online shopping, 80% of purchases are still expected to happen in stores in 2020 as per a Mckinsey report.
The retailers, nowadays, are relying on the Visual Analytics software fitted in the smart CCTV cameras, facial recognition systems, and Big Data Analytics to replicate the e-commerce buying experience in real life. For example, just like the Google Search history and past buying trends are utilised by online stores to provide suggestions on what a customer might want to buy, the facial recognition solution provides a real-time analysis of the past buying experiences of a customer within a jiffy he visits the store. The retailer can thereby provide customised discounts to the customer, in order to optimise its sales. This technology might involve good investment from an average retailer viewpoint, but the huge rate of return indicates that the investments are going to shoot up. Juniper Research predicts retailers will spend $7.3 billion on AI by 2022, compared with the approximately $2 billion spent in 2018.
That’s quite a jump, isn’t it?

AI in Enterprises:

• As per Deloitte’s 2018 cognitive survey, 82% of enterprise AI early adopters are seeing a positive ROI from their production levels.
• About 63% of the enterprises have adopted machine learning, making this category the most popular of all AI technologies in 2018.
• 59% are using AI-enabled enterprise software to gain insights and intelligence that streamlines sales cycles processes and workflows.
• Enhancing current products by making them smarter and more connected (51%), optimising internal operations (36%) and making better decisions (35%) are AI’s leading benefits to the enterprises as per the survey.
The above insights are truly indicative of the scope of artificial intelligence in simplification of some of the most complex processes of a number of enterprises globally. Artificial Intelligence draws special attention in the eyes of the entrepreneurs due to its diversified use cases including IT Automation, Quality Control, Defect Detection and Cybersecurity. Not only this, with a stiff competition between the various enterprises to recruit the best human resource into their firms, the open-source intelligence system is also being recognised worldwide. As a matter of fact, about 37% of AI leaders say their companies have invested more than $ 5 million in cognitive technologies. With enormous investments draining into this sector, AI can definitely emerge to be a game-changer in world economies.

CONCLUSION: Embracing the AI- the need of the hour
Clearly, AI technology is all set to reshape the competitive dynamics of a number of industries. Consequently, to be able to exist in a cutting edge competition, countries throughout the world are now including AI frameworks in their development models. These range from the US executive order on AI leadership and China’s “Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan” to “AI made in Germany” and the “Pan Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy”.
Some economists fear that the advent of AI technology in India might come at a huge expense. With machines and software providing solutions to most of the problems the enterprises face, the need for manual labour may reduce, increasing the already elevated unemployment ratios. With already shooting costs due to enormous investments in AI, companies might want to hire only a bunch of people well equipped with the fast-changing technological trends, thereby “survival of the fittest” theory coming into the picture. But this doesn’t stop the emerging firms, solely caring about their profit optimisation from investing in AI. According to an estimate in a study by tech giant Accenture, AI has the potential to add $957 billion, or 15% of current gross value added, to India’s economy by 2035. Not only this, the stage is all set for AI startups in the current economic scenario. India ranked third among G20 countries in 2016, measured by the number of AI-focused startups, which have increased since 2011 at a compound annual growth rate of 86%, higher than the global average and the numbers are surely expected to increase.
Well, I am really sanguine that the spread of Artificial Intelligence will be embraced by the Indian economy wholeheartedly, and going back to where we started, I really hope I get to meet Alexa when I go to buy my third bike in the year 2040.

(Written by Nischal Upadhyay for The Connectere)

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