In Hyderabad, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says, handloom weavers are using artificial intelligence (AI) to raise productivity. The master weaver, Nadella explains, is in short supply, so a bot designed by Microsoft — it’s called Ruuh, or soul — creates designs that are used by weavers to create new designs/patterns. Nadella was giving this example in the context of whether AI will kill jobs (the Elon Musk view) or whether it would enhance capabilities of people and so create new jobs. “I don’t think one should dismiss the Musk view but if you only look at the threats, you don’t seize the opportunities that come your way,” said Nadella. In the case of agriculture, Nadella gave the example of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics that was taking soil and agronomic data and using AI to suggest what crop to grow, and when, to help improve productivity. SatSure, this newspaper has reported, is using AI and deep learning to predict crop output in real time and so come up with solutions for what level of inputs to use on various types of soil and even predict crop failure for insurance purposes.
Nadella also gave the example of the LV Prasad Eye Institute that is using AI to help doctors make better diagnosis. The idea, the Microsoft CEO said, was to create a surplus for society — people look at company surpluses or even market cap, but this is what really matters — since increasing allocative efficiency is really at the heart of capitalism.
Through various programmes like Sangam, Microsoft is working on creating learning/skilling solutions that will help prepare India’s workforce for the kind of jobs the economy needs.