Mumbai: Infosys Ltd co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy dismissed artificial intelligence and automation as “more hype than reality", even as he admitted that the current times are difficult for the information technology (IT) sector.
He also criticized the high salary hike that senior managements have been apportioning themselves and asked them to make “sacrifices to maintain the common man’s faith in capitalism".
“I think that is not the way to make capitalism acceptable to the larger masses in a country that has huge poverty," he said, speaking at IIT Bombay’s Mood Indigo event over the weekend. “If we believe in capitalism, if we believe that is the best solution for the country to move forward, then leaders of capitalism will have to demonstrate self restraint in apportioning to themselves part of the benefits that come out of running companies," he added.
Murthy also called the trend of no hikes for juniors and freshers as “worrisome". In the last seven years, the salaries of freshers in the software industry have stayed stagnant while the same for senior-level employees have grown by up to 1,000%, he said. “If all of us make sacrifices, then the youngsters will understand."
According to Murthy, the IT sector is passing through a trough that is cyclical in nature and may occur once a few years. One of the reasons for this is the investments in information technology done by the developed world clients in the past, he said, adding they are waiting to reap the benefits of the same before starting to invest again. He, however, dismissed the change in the technological landscape that is being brought about by automation and artificial intelligence.
“There is this whole thing about automation and artificial intelligence. That is much more hype than the reality, at least in the software services," Murthy said.
The domestic IT sector employs over 4 million directly and its revenue has crossed $150 billion, according to industry lobby group Nasscom. It has warned that the rate of hiring is slowing down, while some IT companies concede that a fewer number of people are required to do the work for the same revenue billing.
Many industry reports have highlighted steep decline in hiring in the software space primarily because of automation which has been eating up tens of thousands of human jobs annually. So far this fiscal year, there has no net increase in hiring by the industry.