EmTech India 2017: Innovators underscore India’s role as centre of innovation

Experts discuss how technology such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and machine learning have become a reality and are changing and transforming lives


MIT Technology Review editor-in-chief Jason Pontin said he had watched India’s growth over the past decades with particular fascination.
MIT Technology Review editor-in-chief Jason Pontin said he had watched India’s growth over the past decades with particular fascination.

New Delhi: Top innovators across industries underscored India’s role as a centre of innovation and the next growth market at EmTech India 2017, Mint’s flagship technology conference, hosted in partnership with MIT Technology Review.

The first day of the two-day conference saw leaders from consumer technology, energy, financial services and Internet media sectors laud India’s progress in areas of Internet connectivity, mobility and policy, and discussed the future of disruptive technologies.

Experts discussed how technology such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and machine learning have become a reality and are changing and transforming lives.

Some of the key innovations are happening in these areas and experts felt this decade will be looked back upon as the most transformational decade of this century.

MIT Technology Review editor-in-chief Jason Pontin, who is on his 20th visit to India, said he had watched India’s growth over the past decades with particular fascination. “One thing India has that nobody else does is the world’s largest workforce; or think-force, as I like to call it... 65% of Indians today are below the age of 35,” pointed out Telangana IT minister K.T. Rama Rao.

“When WhatsApp got acquired for $19 billion, while I was confused over the valuation, rest of the young Indians I interact with on regular basis were enthused, kicked; they were out thinking about the possibilities of coming out with own ideas that will change the world. Such is the level of optimism,” Rao said.

The renewable energy sector in India has also picked pace, with the government setting a target of 175GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022. With the storage cost expected to come down and innovation in smart grid infrastructure, “solar and wind will have technology and infrastructure to become 24x7, which change the future course of energy sector,” said Manoj Kohli, executive chairman at SoftBank Energy, a joint venture formed by Japan’s SoftBank, Bharti Enterprises and Foxconn.

Technology is also changing how we transact and virtual currencies such as bitcoin have become a reality in fintech and could potentially transform across the globe and value currencies in the times ahead.

“Demonetisation and digitization are going to give a boost to bitcoin,” said Benson Samuel, co-founder of Coinsecure.in, a bitcoin firm. “It is more about experimentation and making people more aware about bitcoin while it will take some time for cryptocurrency to be popular in India.”

Experts said with the on-going tariff war in telecom industry, data speeds and affordability have improved multi-fold. “Over the past 6-8 months, India has grown from being a nation that was constrained on broadband to a nation that is fast becoming the fastest nation when it comes to internet speeds...Today, India has more mobile data traffic than whole of the US,” said Rajan Anandan, vice-president, India and South East Asia, Google.

Mobile has become the first source of accessing the internet in India, skipping the use of computers and laptops. Currently, there are more than 400 million internet users in India. That number is expected to grow to 600 million in the next 2-3 years. Technology giants including Microsoft, Facebook and Google discussed innovating India-specific solutions for users beyond India I, first 100 million users who typically reside in metropolitan cities.

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