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The Indian government has announced that it will develop a national program on AI after acknowledging that the emerging technology has been the potential to reshape and revolutionize the world as we know it. It has also been reported that India is looking to China for inspiration and will attempt to replicate its business model and strategic approach to Artificial Intelligence in order to become a global AI superpower.

In his budget speech earlier this month, Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley informed parliament that a government think-tank will spearhead an innovative nationwide program on AI which will include research and development.

India’s intent to being progressive and embracing digital transformation and new technologies was backed up in its numbers. The budget allocation for Digital India which is the government’s umbrella initiative to promote AI, Machine Learning, 3D Printing and Robotics was doubled to almost $477 million this year.

CEO and co-founder of video intelligence platform Vidooly, Subrat Kar, praised the government’s stance towards new technologies and said its approach provided a big boost for tech entrepreneurs in the country.  He said, “It’s extremely encouraging to see the government recognize the need for research in cutting-edge technologies. The government’s think-tank support will allow us to indigenously develop technologies on par with our Silicon Valley counterparts, and reduce dependency on them.”

The government’s think-tank is being spearheaded by CEO Amitabh Kant and he has been a key promoter of various digital campaigns in the country, including the massive biometric program Aadhaar, and the Indian chain project which is creating blockchain infrastructure in order to support India-Stack, a set of codes developed around Aadhaar. That’s why the AI initiative has charged up tech companies. However, some analysts believe that this move from India may have come a little too late in its bid to become a global AI superpower. Several countries from all over the world have already invested significantly in the development of AI programs.

The US is currently leading the way primarily due to decades of both public and private investment into the development of the technology. San Francisco’s Bay Area in particular has attracted 41% of all global investments in AI according to statistics and research conducted by China-based Synced Review. It helps that the US is home to institutes that champion AI research such as Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the world’s biggest tech companies like Facebook, Apple, and Google. 

China is hot on the heels of the US and has already predicted that it will be a global leader in AI by 2030. Canada, reportedly the birthplace of AI technology is fast turning into a hub with tech majors like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook establishing research facilities in Montreal. It appears despite this new initiative that India has a long way to go before it catches up with the US and China in the race for AI dominance.