Kerala poised to take 'giant leap' into AI technology

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On Tuesday, Kochi’s Maker Village hosted a day-long session titled ‘AI-Enabled Transformational Changes- Opportunities, Challenges and Future for Startup Entrepreneurship’. The conclave was attended by industry experts, and focused on the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on startup entrepreneurship in Kerala.

The session was opened by Dr Roshy John (Global Head, Industrial Robotics and Cognitive Systems, TCS) who observed that AI’s role could no longer be ignored in Kerala. The state has a strong startup ecosystem, along with immense support from the government; these factors would prove crucial in extending the use and applicability of AI in day-to-day life. With a nuanced and ever-increasing understanding of AI and machine learning, Dr John observed that the conventional model of startup entrepreneurship is poised to undergo a radical change within a decade, and this will open a plethora of opportunities in the state.

Examples of AI technology that could touch everyday life included AI-powered drones, “to find out which crop is suitable or unsuitable in a particular farmland”, suggested Anto Ajay Raj John, senior architect, Deep Learning Framework Power Platform, IBM (India).

Nearly 67% of Kerala’s land is used for agriculture, a profession that is dependent on nature. The last decade has seen huge changes in climatic and environmental factors, and reports on the changes often come out too late, or do not reach those who truly need the information. AI could change that, reducing the time between sample collection and dissemination of the findings. John’s use of the term “fourth Industrial Revolution” was not a light one.

Raghavendra Bhat, principal engineer, Intel India, cited the need for more software startups in the state. Lack of opportunities has led to an increased number of hardware startups, but software startups have fallen behind. Once an equilibrium is achieved, Kerala’s startup ecosystem will be strong enough to support and benefit from the state’s bid to wade into the world of AI.