Raghuram Rajan urges India to embrace technology despite fears of Artificial Intelligence taking over jobs

Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan expressed fears that Artificial Intelligence would take up jobs — both high skilled and unskilled

PTI March 24, 2018 14:49:10 IST
Raghuram Rajan urges India to embrace technology despite fears of Artificial Intelligence taking over jobs

Kochi: Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan on Saturday expressed fears that Artificial Intelligence would take up jobs — both high skilled and unskilled.

With advances in Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, this was going to change still further, as they take up the jobs, ranging from those in unskilled sweatshops to high-skilled professions like medicine, the former RBI governor said.

Raghuram Rajan urges India to embrace technology despite fears of Artificial Intelligence taking over jobs

File image of former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan. PTI.

"What jobs will humans be able to do in 10-15 years that are immune from threat? Jobs that require high intelligence and creativity; jobs that require human empathy and jobs where human working for us bolster our status in some way," he said, delivering the keynote address outlining his vision for India at #FUTURE Global Digital Summit, organised by the Kerala government.

He, however, said India has to embrace technology and become a leader in the digital transformation taking place around the globe without being bogged down by unfounded fears of job losses, incomes or machines replacing humans.

Among the biggest obstacles to technology adoption were fears of a man being replaced by machines — a fear that has existed since the industrial revolution, but never materialised. "Two hundred years since the industrial revolution, jobs are still around. People and society adapt to do the things that machines cannot do," he said.

"With technology, across every job there is going to be a restructuring, taking away the routine aspects and leaving the creative and customised aspects of that job," he said.

Currently, Professor, Finance at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, Rajan said that in every industrial country, more jobs have disappeared in routine skilled and non-routine unskilled jobs, which has partly led to the anxieties.

The former RBI governor said another aspect of the fear was where the incomes would come from; the answer to which was an assured Universal Basic Income.

In the Indian context, he said "we have a huge hunger for capabilities at every level. If we can create incomes at some level, the aspirations of people will ensure their children move up in life and get the opportunities that they did not."

In terms of business opportunities, the government needs to do far more for start-ups to flourish in India by creating easy paths to incorporation and funding, he said.

Rajan said that one of the big lacunae in India was risk financing and so start-ups go elsewhere because they need risk financing, which was not available in the country.

"We have to make sure Indian capital is available because often it is closest to the ground and understands the financing better," Rajan said.

"We have to make sure that the companies of our future are incorporated in India, get Indian financing and expand significantly. We cannot miss out on the AI and Robotics revolution," he said.

Another significant area where India effectively needs a revolution is in education and skill building, Rajan said.

"We need to remedy weaknesses in education at every stage, build more world-class institutions domestically and bring the talent back from abroad," Rajan said.

"We are not as global as we should be even now. Too many of our people are too poorly educated or skilled to compete in a globalised tech-enabled economy," Rajan noted.

"If we don't do that we will end up with a two-tier economy of a few "haves" and a vast population of "have-nots", which is neither socially stable nor desirable," he said.

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