India Enters AI Game, Apple and IBM Pact Could Form U.S. Alliance

By Reto Stöckl / NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

March 23, 2018      

This week saw India jump into the artificial intelligence space, a new partnership between Apple and IBM could be the start of an American AI alliance, and Australians facing job losses could look to Asia.

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India’s late entrance into geopolitics of technology 

The National Institution for Transforming India (also known as Niti Aayong), a think tank in India, is preparing a national AI strategy for the country that will have short (by year 2022), medium (2026), and long-term (2030) goals. The strategy aims to jump-start AI in India, but more importantly, to compete with China.

While India moves forward with an AI strategy, it’s moving at a snail’s pace compared with the rest of the world. The AI strategy from the think tank will still only be an informal “policy paper,” not an official government strategy.

If the goal is to compete with China, New Delhi may be overestimating itself. China’s AI power extends beyond its own borders. China sells its AI to Malaysia, building AI for consumer robots, even offering AI services to take on Amazon and Microsoft in Europe. India, on the other hand, doesn’t have a single AI achievement under its belt, despite the growth of robotics in the country.

Apple and IBM create informal AI alliance

Apple and IBM have signed a partnership that will see Apple’s developer capabilities being more easily accessed and integrated into IBM Watson. The agreement lets both companies create more advanced apps for consumers and enterprises (both companies have already created hundreds of such apps).

IBM Watson Apple agreement

Credit: IBM

This partnership may have geopolitical undertones, because it reflects a similar trend taking place in China, Taiwan, and other countries. Companies are banding together, forming alliances around specific technologies to take on foreign competition. This includes areas such as voice recognition, ethics, and standards around AI.

The partnership between Apple and IBM could be the beginning of such an alliance in the U.S. For now, the partnership may only involve Apple and IBM. It may just revolve around developer tools. But tomorrow, it could involve other large technology companies and focus on several core areas of AI, creating a “united American front” to protect against foreign rivals.

Asia could face immigrants from Australia

A new report states that one in three jobs in Australia could disappear by 2030 because of automation. Those with the highest chance of being replaced by automation have manual labor or low-education jobs. The states with the highest automation risk include South Australia (41% of jobs at risk) and the Northern Territory (34% of jobs at risk).

For decades, people in Asia have flocked to Australia in search of opportunity, jobs, and a better quality of life. Australia’s economy, and its relevance, has boomed because of these immigrants.

But now the opposite may happen. If resources shrink and automation eats up jobs, it may be Australians that become the next migrants in Asia. That gives Asian nations such as Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, China, and India, a new kind of geopolitical power. The question for these Asian powers is how will they treat Australia when they are in the power seat?