Exploring the History of Artificial Intelligence in India: When Artificial Intelligence Started In India

Danesh Ramuthi

Last Updated February 11, 2023

Artificial intelligence (AI) has a fascinating and long history in India, beginning around the time computers were introduced in the mid-1950s. Indian engineers and scientists began developing artificial intelligence in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Since then, rapid and far-reaching developments in the field have sparked a paradigm shift in the IT industry and the way we consider machines. In this essay, we will investigate the origins of AI in India and trace its development to the present day.

An Overview of the Early Development of AI in India

When Artificial Intelligence Started In India

In 1957, India’s first computer was unveiled – an Electronic Numerical Integrator And Calculator (ENIAC) of American origin. This computer had very limited capabilities and was used primarily to calculate meteorological data. However, it provided an early introduction to the world of AI and began to spark the imagination of local engineers and scientists, who soon began working on their own AI research projects. In 1968, a dedicated AI laboratory was founded at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, furthering research in the field.

By the mid-1970s, Indian experts had begun to make substantial contributions to the field of AI. Their work focused primarily on pattern recognition and artificial neural networks – research that would eventually form the basis for modern-day AI. In 1979, a team of scientists from IIT Kharagpur made an extensive study of AI applications in agriculture, which opened up the possibility of using machines to improve productivity in the agricultural sector.

In the 1980s, AI research in India began to expand rapidly. Several new AI laboratories were established at various universities and research institutes, and the government began to invest heavily in AI research. This period saw the emergence of several prominent AI researchers, such as Raj Reddy, who would go on to make significant contributions to the field. By the end of the decade, India had become a major player in the global AI research community.

The Impact of AI on Indian Technological Advancement

Artificial intelligence (AI) has profoundly affected India’s technological growth from its earliest days to its present stage of near-ubiquity. The advent of AI has greatly aided innovation and the creation of useful new goods that make life simpler or more efficient. With the advent of AI, businesses now can make rapid, well-informed decisions through automated processes.

Similarly, AI has profoundly affected India’s software engineering sector. By taking over repetitive tasks like coding, testing, and bug fixing, AI has allowed programmers to focus on creating more advanced programmes and algorithms. Furthermore, AI-driven technologies like machine learning have allowed for more efficient use of data, leading to more accurate forecasts and more efficient services.

The Evolution of AI Research Programs in India

When Artificial Intelligence Started In India

Government support for AI research rose as computers were introduced to India. “Artificial Intelligence for DST” (AIDST), an ambitious programme that provided financing for research in AI and related subjects, was introduced by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in 2015. In order to further multidisciplinary research initiatives in AI, the programme promoted cooperation between universities, research institutions, and private organisations.

Other government organisations, such as the autonomous government agency NITI Aayog, have contributed significantly to funding AI research in addition to AIDS. Leading universities in India have been collaborating with NITI Aayog to promote AI research that focuses on national concerns. These programmes have sped up research and sparked debate about the moral ramifications of creating artificial intelligence.

The Role of Government Support in the Development of AI in India

The success of AI in India is attributed largely to the support it has received from various government institutions. Beginning with the government’s decision to fund IIT Bombay’s AI lab back in 1968, numerous government initiatives have been established to promote research into AI and its applications. These include research grants, training programs and strategic partnerships with other countries.

The efforts of these institutions have paid off tremendously, as Indian companies have been able to harness the power of AI to develop products that can compete with those developed by top international companies. Further, many of these products are being created using indigenous technologies, which gives India a leg up on countries like China which is ahead in AI adoption.

The Impact of AI on Indian Society and Culture

Perhaps the unknown aspect of AI development is how it will affect society and culture. AI is used in India for many ambitious initiatives, including intelligent medical services and smart cities. Additionally, the democratisation of access to services at various societal levels has been made possible by its implementation in several areas.

The impact of AI can also be seen in how technology has altered how humans communicate. In order to deliver information on subjects like healthcare and financial advice, conversational bots and chatbots are increasingly being deployed. Additionally, they are becoming smarter and can recognise context thanks to advances in language processing.

Influential Pioneers and Innovators in the Field of AI in India

Many Indian individuals have made great contributions to the development of AI in India over the past few decades. Some prominent figures in the field include Dr. P S Goel who has spearheaded various projects related to natural language processing (NLP), Dr Amarjeet Kumar who heads several machine learning projects at IIT Kanpur, and Mr AS Raja who founded Kirusa–one of India’s most successful startups for advanced language processing.

In addition to these pioneers, many other eminent personalities such as Prof Ashutosh Sharma from IIT Delhi helped create a system for machines that can help diagnose diseases based on symptoms, as well as Vijay Shekhar Sharma–founder & CEO of Paytm–who has been at the forefront of fintech innovation by leveraging artificial intelligence technologies.

Exploring the Current State of Artificial Intelligence in India

When Artificial Intelligence Started In India

Today, AI is deeply integrated into all aspects of Indian life. It is no longer regarded as an exotic technology but is seen as a critical component of modern life. While it is true that India lags behind some countries when it comes to adoption, it is quickly catching up due to increasing investment and awareness.

From hiring talent to building start-ups, India’s tech ecosystem is enjoying unprecedented levels of investment and innovation regarding artificial intelligence. High profile investors such as Softbank have poured money into Indian companies like Flipkart and Ola, leveraging AI’s power to streamline their services.

Looking Towards the Future: Where Is Artificial Intelligence Headed In India?

When Artificial Intelligence Started In India

India is likely to see tremendous progress in artificial intelligence in the coming years. With increasing awareness about its potential benefits, companies are starting to invest heavily in research and development for AI technologies. Furthermore, higher education institutions are offering specialized courses on AI-related subjects – indicative of how far this field has come in such a short period.

Going forward, it is likely that we will see an increase in government initiatives aimed at promoting research into AI and encouraging its use by businesses across different sectors. The convergence of emerging technologies like IoT, blockchain and 5G will make it easier for companies to adopt intelligent systems that can improve efficiency levels and enable faster decision-making.

The advances we’ve seen so far offer just a glimpse into what artificial intelligence is capable of achieving in India – from transforming entire industries to exponentially improving everyday lives – so stay tuned for more!

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Danesh Ramuthi

Tech Content Writer

Danesh is a scientist and a content writer with more than 2 years of experience. He is also a published author of a science fiction children’s book titled Imaginary Tales. 

AI has always been in his mind and soul ever since the cult classic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey inspired him to become a writer. Seeing a lot of stigma and misconceptions on AI, he has decided to found Ava Machina as an Hub for people from different backgrounds to gather and learn about AI through expert insights as well as redirecting them to the right source.

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