If you are a frequent online shopper, chances are you searched for, say, a belt, and the website suggested you buy something unrelated, like a coffeemaker. This will become rarer as machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence, improves substantially. And with advancements in technologies for image recognition and search — Google has launched this feature on its Pixel 2 phones, though it is still in beta — ecommerce will be more interactive and intuitive.
According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, using different datasets to make predictions, including shopping recommendations, is the biggest area of focus in AI globally. Moreover, Amazon, Samsung and Google are training the voice assistants on their devices to get better at speaking in and understanding Indian English accents, saving us the effort of repeating our questions.
Given India’s multilingual nature — there are 22 major languages at last count and tens of other languages and variants — AI will make non-English speakers’ experience with gadgets less cumbersome. Banks and other financial services firms are increasingly relying on AI to better serve their customers and reduce costs. HDFC Bank and State Bank of India are among those which have launched chatbots to handle customer queries.
Healthcare is another sector that will be transformed by AI, especially in a vast, underserved country like India – it ranks a lowly 154 out of 195 countries on a healthcare access index. Estimating the incidence of a disease in a particular population based on extensive data and cheaper diagnoses are among the upshots of cognitive computing. Many entrepreneurs are betting on AI-based offerings to lift them out of obscurity; one of them, Bengaluru-based Halli Labs, was acquired by Google in July, just four months into its founding.
It might be a while before driverless vehicles are seen on Indian roads, but India is taking to AI at a rapid clip. A recent study by Capgemini found more than half the Indian companies using AI to have taken it beyond just pilot projects, a higher proportion than any of the other eight countries surveyed. The study found AI adoption to be the largest among telecom and retail companies globally. Most of us will hardly stop to think about it, but AI will play a much larger role in our lives in 2018 than ever before.
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