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Microsoft wants to make AI available to all after partnering with 650 Indian vendors

The Redmond giant said it plans to leverage artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and machine learning for building solutions in India.

At its ‘AI for All’ conference in Bengaluru, Microsoft said that artificial intelligence will no longer remain a secret ingredient for the major tech companies in the world. The company revealed on Wednesday that 650 Indian companies will deploy its solutions to improve and transform their businesses in the country.

At the conference, Microsoft India stressed that it had been working closely with Indian e-commerce site Flipkart and the country’s leading cab service Ola to provide AI-based solutions that solved demand forecasting, fraud identification and segregating customers on a large scale.

But what does all this mean to the millions of Indians who have come to use technology for their daily life scenarios? For a start, Flipkart’s use of Microsoft’s AI and Azure platform will allow the online retailer to showcase products that are more relevant to a user’s liking and this helps them deliver personalized experiences for each and every customer who’s looking to shop at their e-store.

Ola’s new connected car platform which they named Ola Play is also expected to leverage the same technology that improves the experiences of their passengers as well as their drivers. While AI and solutions will make way for smarter navigation of cabs around a city during traffic to make users get to their destination on time, it would also be able to predict breakdowns, fuel efficiency and engine performance for the drivers. Speaking on this matter, Senior Director of Engineering at Ola, Kaushik Mukherjee said “We know every single street at least in tier one cities and every time a pothole opens up we know that as well. That data is hugely useful when we talk about infrastructure, road conditions and accident-prone [and] dimly lit areas”.

Being considered as big a player as electricity was back in the 20th century, AI has also made significant changes in the healthcare division. Microsoft India was quick to reveal that a tie-up with Focus Health will help the latter in laying more importance toward retinal imaging devices so it will be easier to identify patients with macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. This will reduces cases where an individual will be able to avoid complete blindness and future complications.

Having said all that, AI, like any piece of technology, can be misused as well and though it can take many paths, most of them being good, some could turn bad. Microsoft has acknowledged the same by saying it takes the consequences of the technology quite seriously. Amidst news regarding several data breaches, Executive VP of Business Development at Microsoft, Peggy Johnson said “We don’t want to just unleash it, we want to be very mindful of it. As AI is introduced in our daily lives, we want people to know what is going on with their data. If anything should go wrong, you can’t say ‘oh the machine did it’ that just is not an acceptable answer. You really have to take accountability for it.”

Microsoft India’s AI solutions comes a month after Finance minister, Arun Jaitley introduced a national programme on AI to be pushed forward by a high-level committee at Niti Aayog. The team will lay out a scheme for India’s development and research on AI and the application so it would be able to match its neighbour China’s approach and commitment towards AI. A recent study has indicated that artificial intelligence could go on to add close to$960 billion to the Indian economy and thus increase the country’s income by 15% in the next decade and a half, where a lot of effort will be made to reskill the current workforce that will irrelevant in the future.

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