Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Responsible AI for all is a strategic imperative for businesses

Published: Apr 14, 2020 01:06:25 PM IST

Responsible AI for all is a strategic imperative for businesses
AI is top of mind for executives in every business sector today. As businesses race to build AI technologies, responsible, ethical use and the larger good of the society need to be in the forefront

A panel of experts met on Twitter to talk about how AI-led innovation needs to be responsible in every aspect connected to the technology from the get go. From the drawing board to the end-user of the solutions that enterprises build, the concept of responsible use needs to be the bedrock of any innovation.

This will also ensure the use of AI-led innovation for the benefit of the larger society beyond enterprises, the experts agreed. They came from different verticals and backgrounds — from financial services to cybersecurity to government policy and participated in a ‘Tweetathon’ organised by Forbes India, in partnership with Microsoft India.

“With the help of AI, financial services today is able to resolve genuine customer pain-points that have existed for years,” Mukesh Sharma, CTO of Paisabazaar said. “Whether it is innovations in products, processes or services, AI is making financial products and the interactions around them easy and completely seamless.”

To let customers get an accurate idea of their eligibilities, Paisabazaar built a ‘Chance of Approval’ model, Sharma said. For the underlying technology, the fintech company worked with Microsoft to build a regression-based python model and a micro-service-based architecture built on Azure Cloud to match the customer requirement for personalised solutions.

The system factors in data including customer profile, bank policies, credit worthiness to offer pre-qualified loans in real time.

At the same time, technology also helps with ethical considerations such as data privacy: To classify and redact confidential information of the customer, “we are using Azure Cognitive services & Vision APIs to validate and protect important data,” Sharma said. Image recognition and OCR enables a machine to parse and validate customers’ details digitally.

“Furthermore, using ML, we identify the information and redact the confidential information of the customer.”

The use of AI and related technologies is top of mind in the cybersecurity space, Rohit Kumar, executive VP at Paladion Networks, said.

“Fast growing and most successful cybersecurity companies are leveraging the cloud for scale and AI for speed, and both together for the ideal cyber threat management” solutions, Kumar said.

He added: “We are an AI-first organisation. Strategically, this position drives how we solve the problems of our customers, how we build an operating model that creates higher value with fewer resources. AI helps us serve more customers, grow faster and operate with higher margins.”

“At Paladion, AI augments our hundreds of security analysts who together protect client apps, networks endpoints and users,” Kumar said. “We are on Azure and natively support both cloud and data centres to secure any asset, anywhere. This works well for today's remote-workforce-heavy world.”

AI can also be applied to use cases that have a social impact, Kumar said. He gave an example: “We have seen an interesting use case of smart speakers, along with other connected devices, being tested in senior living communities to connect people to each other and to healthcare personnel, to monitor safety, provide companionship and such benefits. A lot of this has AI.”

Anand Subhash at Concept Bytes, another SAAS security platform provider, added: “We use Hybrid Edge AI in offline/online mode to generate actionable intelligence for enterprises in real-time.” This is offered as SaaS products with try and buy, and is hosted on the Azure cloud, which “does the magic of global access and scalability.”

Typically, enterprises of any size need to investigate device data and video streams in real-time daily. AI is put to detect patterns on terabytes of data in real-time and inform the designated user, in the right format, in a platform agnostic manner, Subhash said.

At Decision Point, Co-Founder Ravi Shankar said, “We leverage Microsoft technologies like Data Bricks, Data Factory for building AI applications on Azure; and use Power BI, Microsoft Teams for enabling consumption of the data and insights.”

“The advantage of the Microsoft stack is the ability to integrate into the enterprise processes seamlessly that generates rapid user adoption and ROI for the AI solutions,” Shankar said.

At Disprz, “We help companies through our AI-based learning experience platform (LXP) in understanding the skill gaps in their organisation, building a proprietary AI-based skill module and recommending personalised content to learners based on their individual needs and roles,” said Co-Founder and CEO Subbu Viswanathan.

Disprz helped one of the largest internet companies in the world in setting up a Digital Learning Academy for all its employees that uses AI to create personalised learning experiences and recommends courses from multiple MOOCS and internal content libraries. It is developing a home grown platform on the Azure cloud.

Beyond the enterprise, AI can be harnessed for societal good. In current times, as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, AI based risk analysis modelling can forecast the spread of the virus, aid drug development, track hospital occupancy and so on, Viswanathan said.

“We use AI to help insurance, retail and IT customers to beat the ‘Hiring Lag’ or the long time it takes to hire,” said Sanjoe Tom Jose, CEO of Talview. “We enable them to automate routine tasks and remove bottlenecks; with faster decision making by leveraging data better; and virtualisation to eliminate schedule/location constraints,” he said.

Talview has enabled its customers to continue hiring fully remotely with the help of its mobile enabled video interviewing and remote proctored assessments solutions and is today not just a hiring tool but a Business Continuity Planning tool for customers, he said.

Sectors such as manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and consumer packaged goods have gone in a big way in using AI for implementing use cases around front office transformation, financial process improvements, supply chain management and logistics, said Sudipta Ghosh, partner and leader — data and analytics at consultancy PwC.

AI is being used for shortening the duration of new product development so that the time to market can be reduced. Multiple uses in the healthcare sector have improved the accuracy of test results. Reduction in the effort and time for the discovery of new drugs.

“Because of the uncertain situation now, organisations are building the future scenarios particularly from a supply chain perspective using advanced analytics and simulation based techniques,” he said.

Ghosh weighed in on ethical considerations as well: From a data perspective, quality, governance and ethical use are important, he said. “From a fairness perspective, the ability to remove bias from the data is important.”

“2020 is being celebrated as the year of AI in Telangana,” the state’s IT Secretary Jayesh Ranjan said. The state is partnering tech companies, academic institutions and AI start-ups to help create solutions that can have a wider social impact, he said.

“We guarantee as a government that we will be the first customer for a home-grown Startup if the product/solution is relevant to us,” Ranjan said.

Ranjan too had an example of AI for social purpose: “One enormously useful social project,  that we are working on with the Wadhwani AI Foundation is how to detect malnutrition in newborn babies just by looking at their images. This can potentially solve a major social problem for the country.”

He also stressed the importance of responsible, non-discriminatory and unbiased development of AI solutions, ensuring social security of citizens; and  as businesses race to adopt AI, the need to use it ethically and in ways that generate trust from customers, partners, and the public.

To conclude, AI is a strategic priority for businesses in many a sector and enterprises are moving to build solutions for both internal use and to offer innovative products and services to their end customers. The need of the hour is to ensure that the AI innovations they build — from concept to end-customer use — are built in a responsible fashion, keeping in mind the greater good of the society at large.

Harichandan Arakali

Editor (Technology)

Forbes India

Disclaimer: The views, suggestions and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Forbes India journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.