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Deploying AI to counter Covid-19 Challenges ?

Bhumesh Verma, International Corporate Lawyer

Today, the entire world is facing the overwhelming task of handling Covid19 and its implications cutting across nations, industries and population segments. 

We are very likely to witness a very different post Covid19 world – it is not going to be same in terms of day to day life and working – there will be significant changes in many spheres of our lives. The changes would encompass unprecedented changes from so many aspects - social, political, legal and economic perspectives and so on.

Reduction of human interface and increase in dependence on technology and artificial intelligence (AI) would be some key factors in post Covid19 world. Industry experts are debating about the imminent need to dig deeper into AI aspect and develop more AI based solutions to meet the upcoming challenges.

However, it is easier said than done. The real challenge lies in developing some revolutionary AI based products / services / solutions which could overcome the challenges posted by non-personal possibilities and dealing with the new normal in our lives.

At the same time, Indian government has given a clarion call to reduce reliance of imported products and service and enhance “Self reliance”, thereby encouraging local manufacturing and usage of local products in our day to day life. The underlying idea behind this could be to develop India majorly into a self reliant nation along with integrating technologies and investments from overseas to the extent compatible and required.  

This is not an isolationist idea but an inclusive one, to my mind. The core aspect is not to become isolated from the world but to emerge as a nation with less dependence on products / services manufactured / sourced from outside India.

The central government is using AI based technology to handle with complications created by corona virus (various useful apps to track the virus affected people, beds available in hospitals, etc.) – however, one of the main challenges is to handle with privacy issues connected with usage of AI technology.

As per available information, more than 10 million people has downloaded the Aarogya Setu app which the government claims to be completely safe from privacy perspective. Experts and general public are apprehensive that there are data privacy issues and challenges associated with usage of AI.

It is time for experts and professionals in AI ecosystem to step up the ante and develop innovative technologies to deal with the diversified challenges posed by the pandemic.

Some particular aspects that will define the course of AI future in our day to day lives would be ethics, conscience, accountability and responsibility associated therewith.

The Central Government is conscious of the challenges and implications and is in the process of establishing a proper personal data protection mechanism in place with real time application – reportedly, a draft is ready and waiting for final nod.

The Central Government has allocated the job of developing AI based solutions to firmly deal with Covid19 issues to Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) by utilising its supercomputing capabilities.

The prospect of using AI to develop solutions to issues and challenges posed by Covid19 is an interesting and intriguing aspect – having said that, the government has to balance such development with privacy concerns.

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