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Nasscom Technology and Leadership Forum 2024 – A review

National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) launched the Nasscom Technology and Leadership Forum (NTLF) 2024 in Mumbai.

The two-day event, being held February 20-21 brings together over 500 technology leaders and policymakers to address national priorities regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact.

Discussions are focussed on strategies for an AI-powered world, balancing innovation and regulation. Key topics are national AI plans, sustainability, personalization, infrastructure security, and future jobs. The event’s central theme is pioneering ethical and inclusive AI in solving challenges within the industry.

Excerpts of some speaker presentations.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State at Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said, “The government will come out with a draft regulatory framework for artificial intelligence (AI) by June-July, after holding extensive discussions with the industry.”

Nasscom President Debjani Ghosh emphasized that while emerging tech presents tremendous possibilities, updated data policies and continuous workforce reskilling are vital.

Fei-Fei Li, inaugural Sequoia Professor, Computer Science Department, Stanford University said, “The founding principle of AI is to augment and enhance humans and not to replace humans. We do need to take a historical view to inform the future. Humans have been making tools for thousands of years. And every time we make tools, our intention is to make us enhance our capabilities – whether it is a stone spear or a wheel or electricity or steel.”

Rajesh Nambiar, Chairman & MD, Cognizant India, and Chairperson, Nasscom said, “Even as India’s tech industry witnessed slower growth due to macro headwinds, the domestic IT growth, in 2023, for the first time, exceeded the export growth.

The domestic growth was supported by government investments and embracement of emerging technologies, as the market grew 7.8 per cent in 2023.

The Indian economy grew two times faster than the global economy, and the investments we have made in physical and digital infrastructure and the demographics is actively shaping our businesses, and that’s a huge progress. This decade is actually ours.

Tech industry in India is now a $253 billion industry and employs over 5.4 million people. India is the third largest tech startup ecosystem and the third largest digitised country in the world. Given the global headwinds in 2023, the industry did witness a slower growth but still has added $9 billion in incremental revenue and 60,000 new jobs.”

K. Krithivasan, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) said, “Artificial intelligence will disrupt employment opportunities in the short term, however eventually there will be more work. As you see with every tech, there will be some disruption, but eventually we will have more work. We believe that we have to continue to hire the same number of people as we are hiring right now. But we will probably need to change the way we train people, and the kind of people we hire will also change, but we don’t need to reduce the number of people.

As we are already seeing some green-shoots in the economy we need more people for more work. In fact, we have no plans to reduce our hiring plans and will continue to hire the same way as we have been doing. Probably we will have to change the hiring phase, but no cutting down on our hiring plans, for sure.”

Mohit Joshi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Tech Mahindra said, “This threat of mass unemployment is overblown and especially overblown from a technology perspective. It (AI) will give an enormous set of capabilities to people, it will allow people to move up the learning curve much faster than they would have two decades ago. AI is such a powerful equaliser, that it really gives superhuman capabilities to almost every human. This is the Ironman suit that we were all waiting for.

Working from home is productive only if you’re going to spend masses of time linearly going through a set of tasks, thinking through a business line or writing code.

The future is very clearly not working from home and it is also not really gonna be five days a week, 22 days a month working from the office. So we will find a happy median somewhere over the next few months, sooner than we expected.”

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