Being too absorbed in current devastating life threatening environment I find AI a welcome distraction to be engaged in. Barring Corona, AI is the flavour of the season. The pandemic which was aerially delivered by China to every nook and corner of the world overnight as a free introductory offer to coincide with the start of the year of the Rat, is beating AMAZON Prime hollow.
However AI has crept into our environment stealthily over the past 6 decades. Its current spurt is the result of China adopting it wholeheartedly in the last 7-8 years. AI stealthily crept into our midst on the back of of a giant deaf and dumb IBM Main Frame in the early 1950s that was named computer. It had a freeze period for nearly 3 decades after which it took off as a hot commodity. The now almost junked PCs that adorned all offices across the world was the signal for the defreezing and rapid growth of AI, which is now almost posing a threat to gainful employment of skilled and unskilled work force.
The famous games between a special purpose IBM PC(Deep Blue) and the Chess Grand Master Kasparov which the machine won, was a watershed in the approval rating of the potential superiority of machine over man. In retrospect the machine was only lifting its little finger to beat the Grand Master.
Perhaps the next electrifying moment was the drubbing of the South Korean acknowledged champ Ke Jie in a far more complex 2500 old Chinese board game of GO in 2017. GO was believed to imbue its players with Zen-like intellectual refinement and wisdom, unlike Chess where moves were seen as crudely tactical. This sensational match result fired the imagination of the Chinese. They have since taken their proverbial massive leap and mastered the technology advancing to its cutting edge, although UK, USA and Canada were the pioneers.
China’s vast advantage flows from its ability to generate and process large data from its huge domestic sources. India has been a slow starter, but has the potential to catch up as it has a similar advantage. The four basic pillars of AI are generation of large data, safe data storage, processing capacity and interpretation, all in double quick time.
Interestingly, the PC was introduced to young learners by drawing an analogy with the human head. Its Input device of Keyboard/Mouse was likened to human vision, audition, touch, and smell. The Output device of Screen display and Printer was like speech and gestures. The CPU was likened to the human brain. ROM and RAM were likened to human memory. Like our mother tongue, the computer had its own language. Unlike our 10 digit computational system the computer followed binary arithmetic using only 2 digits (0 and1). For a while humans could communicate with it only in its own language, that too in writing. Not any more. AI has given it speech recognition tool in many languages. AI draws its name from its analogy to human intelligence. PC soon gave way to portable laptop, tablet etc. Now smart phones with more sophisticated technological features and incredible speed, and yet easier to operate, are reigning supreme. AI enables it to guess the word in my mind even as I begin to type, thanks to AI.
AI is making a revolutionary impact on our lives already. Yet it is said to be only in the nascent stage of development. The algorithmic trading is developing into a menace in the stock market. Personal Privacy is no more assured. For some AI scientists and users the future is scary, and for good reason. They fear it may eventually destroy humanity.
AI is still far from that potential, but is spreading like wild fire. There is a belief that humans are themselves robots allowed to thrive in the world by a superior master. Each one of us is programmed to play for a specific role for a predetermined time and then vanish. The master regulates us and our environment. We have been given uninterrupted free supply of air, water, land, Sky, solar and wind energy, flora and fauna and other living and lifeless things around us to cater to our hunger and reproductive needs for sustainability. ‘Comfort’ and ‘Luxury’ are our innovation. Greed is our nemesis. Global warming, pollution and destruction of nature are self inflicted wounds for harakiri. AI may or may not be the last straw!
Back to our blog topic now. Agriculture and health care are the two most important aspects of the quality of human life on this planet. Agriculture has been the oldest occupation of humanity. It has seen reforms every now and then, but they have been only incremental. Productivity has improved dramatically over the years. Soil science and management, soil upgradation, Drip irrigation, production and selection of seeds, chemical fertilisers, mechanical farming, meteorological forecasts, processing, quality management, packaging, preservation, storage, transportation, pricing, marketing, and distribution techniques have undergone sea change over the millenniums of human existence.
Lately Application of AI to practically all the aspects of the agriculture occupation has been transforming agriculture to newer peaks. Everyday AI start-ups are bringing in products and services to improve agriculture. AI powered processes and next-gen technology solutions are spreading fast. Bangalore based APIT renders solutions for fully automated AI powered parboiled paddy processing and driers, super-aged rice processing plants and recipe based rice parboiling. Ensuring zero-error processes, the company specialises in designing, engineering, erection, and commissioning of paddy processing plants for clients across the globe. Its energy efficient processes deliver the final product of uniform colour, and quality consistency in every batch.
Another AI driven startup company started by a 16 year old school dropout is making fully autonomous indigenous vehicle. Only the sensors are imported from the US. Its potential usage is tremendous.
AI is heavily into agriculture. Its revolutionary role has been compared to electricity. Perhaps we can live even without electricity. But without good health our life would not be worth it. Good health depends on good food, which in turn can be produced by good agriculture. AI is enabling this. Too much reliance on quick-fix chemical fertilisers with potential to damage soil, destroy the eco-system, and poison human organs needs to be countered. AI has the capability to enable this. It has the ability to offer real time solutions and course correction even something starts going awry.
However AI can displace the vast worker force employed in agriculture. This can be counter-productive and cause uprooting and destabilisation of population. The argument that they can be redeployed in other fields (pun intended) is not convincing, since AI is also occupying other spaces threatening skilled and unskilled jobs. The world is groping to find out where the bell is and who will bell the invisible cat of rising unemployment. This issue is yet to reach criticality we don’t have the luxury of time to find a sustainable solution. China seems to have one for itself, acquire the whole world. Those who are engaged in AI and its applications need to apply their abundant NI (natural intelligence) and minimise its negative potential. Will they?
This is my take on this week’s Friday 6 On 1 blog topic that was suggested by Sanjanaah. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Shackman, Conrad, Ramana, Sanjanaah and Padmini (when she does!).
Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they write about this topic.