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The Future: India Will Take AI on the Chin

Posted on Thursday, Jan 5th 2017

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India’s development over the last two decades owes a lot to globalization and IT outsourcing from the West.

Today, the Indian IT-BPO industry employs 3.7 million people.

A large portion of this is relatively low skilled, or at least mid-range skilled positions.

Artificial Intelligence, it seems, will deliver on its promise on many vectors. Low-skilled tasks that can be automated WILL be automated. This will start showing impact relatively soon. Some analysts like HfS research have projected a job loss of 640,000 by 2021.

Moreover, automated code generators stand to replace human programmers at mass scale as well. This, perhaps, is somewhat farther out, but still, will happen well within the next two decades.

To put this in perspective, HfS forecasts that the global IT industry, by 2021, will shed 9% of jobs, which is about 1.4 million.

If you draw the trend line out to 2030 or 2040, it doesn’t look rosy. 60 to 80% of the IT-BPO sector jobs may disappear.

Add to that the fact that India has never really had a large manufacturing sector. While the Modi government has made a lot of noise about Make in India to stimulate manufacturing, the fact is, today, manufacturing uses robotics and automation, not human beings. So even if products were manufactured in India, that sector would not create many jobs.

Then there is the issue of self-driving cars, trucks, taxis and such, as well as ride-sharing. This sector employs a lot of people. I have written about the projections for the sector earlier in Artificial Intelligence: Just Because We Can, Does It Mean That We Should? By 2025, 10 million jobs could disappear worldwide. India will feel the brunt of this shrinkage as well.

For an economy that in 2015 grew at 7.5%, one of the fastest in the world, the outlooks I have seen still forecast between 5.5-7.2% growth till 2030.

I wonder, to what extent the IT-BPO sector shrinkage is factored into these projections!

Photo credit: liquidcrash/Flickr.com.

This segment is a part in the series : The Future

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