What is Artificial Intelligence?

In 1956, John McCarthy officially coined the term Artificial Intelligence (AI), which was defined as "the science and engineering of making intelligent machines." After a brief lull, termed as 'AI Winter,' when all progress relating to its development had virtually stalled due to technological limitations and shortage of funds, AI started its second innings in the 2000s. Since 2010, AI is progressing well thanks to improvement in computing powers, data volume, and advanced algorithms.

When people talk about AI, they often consider its negative aspects and its ability to destroy the world, as shown in big-budgeted Hollywood movies. However, all of these talks are misleading, which often frightens us about an unlikely future. On the other hand, AI is seen to fundamentally change the labor market through intelligent automation of many routine tasks that humans usually perform.

The goals of artificial intelligence include learning, reasoning, and perception. An AI-based machine is programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions with the help of learning and problem-solving on their own. The basic expectation from an AI-based software is that it should make humans' work easier by using its ability to rationalize and take actions that have the best chance of achieving a specific goal.

However, the applications for artificial intelligence are endless; I have provided some of the applications below. The technology is being applied to many different sectors and industries. AI is being tested and used in the healthcare industry for dosing drugs and various treatment methods in the patients and for surgical procedures in the operating room. Other examples of machines with artificial intelligence include computers that play chess and self-driving cars. However, as technology advances, previous benchmarks that defined artificial intelligence become outdated. For example, machines that calculate basic functions or recognize text through optical character recognition are no longer considered to embody artificial intelligence, as the task is now taken for granted as an essential computer function.

In the following articles, I emphasize the need to introduce AI in India as soon as possible. I have also provided articles on current as well as potential applications of AI in the future.

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AI and The Outsourcing Sector

BPO

Should AI be Embraced in the Outsourcing Sector?

Vladimir Putin has rightly noted that "whoever becomes the leader in artificial intelligence (AI) will become the ruler of the world." Sectors that have adopted the latest technologies like AI have seen exponential growth in their businesses. To maintain its grasp on the global outsourcing sector, India also needs to innovate using AI.

What are Virtual Assistants?

Have you used Alexa to turn your room lights off? If yes, congratulations, you are an everyday user of AI. To understand how these Virtual Assistants can help in modernizing India's outsourcing sector, we need to learn how these assistants operate.

Virtual Assistants (VAs), like Alexa of Amazon and Siri of Apple work on the concept of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA refers to programmed software that can perform basic human-like tasks with ease. Many companies use this technology as it reduces the burden of repetitive, simple tasks on employees. RPA reduces human intervention and provides more precise and reliable outputs.

Virtual Assistants are serviceable to us in many ways as they make our day to day life manageable. These Virtual Assistants should be embraced in various call centers as they can provide an upper hand to the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry.

How Can Automation Prove To Be Beneficial?

India rules the global business process outsourcing services with a share of 50%. At the same time, due to rising income levels and infrastructure costs, the annual growth rate has substantially decresed from 20% to 5% in a decade.

With automation in this sector, India will get a significant boost in its GDP. Virtual Assistants will save the industry's time by making the information automated, thereby reducing the time taken for storing or feeding data. They can also help by filtering spam calls and auto-populating the data that a caller may be looking for. By working continuously for 24 hours without any breaks, they can prove to be very remunerative. Minimized errors would cause an increase in the overall productivity of the company.

Why Is There An Urgent Need To Introduce AI In This Sector?

Critics of technology point out that automation holds the potential of snatching jobs of more than 7 lakh people, which is supported by the current trend line that shows that 60-80% of BPO sector jobs may disappear by 2040. However, I see this as an opportunity for our government to upskill citizens and channelize their employment in alternate as well as more lucrative sectors.

According to Phill Fresht, the CEO of the US-based HfS Research agency, China, with its extensive infrastructure can steal a significant share of India's outsourcing revenue in the future. Thus, the need to reform India's BPO sector with the introduction of Artificial Intelligence has arrived. If the positive aspects of AI are considered, they outweigh the negative aspects, eg job loss. Introducing Artificial Intelligence the right way would help India increase its share in the BPO sector. By achieving this, India would be able to increse its business thereby employing more workers who will eventually cope with some of the lost jobs.

 

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