Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of the Tata Group, one of the largest employers in the country, has warned that artificial intelligence like robots and analytics could replace human intervention and hurt jobs of the future.

The Tata patriarch also highlighted that group companies will have to reinvent themselves to the changing times even as new-age intelligence of the future would in some way replicate human thinking. Tata was speaking to an in-house publication of the Tata Group.

“Technology is going to decide how businesses are run, and that’s not a new phenomenon. We are many decades into information technology and the automation that it has enabled. Interestingly, artificial intelligence and analytics may replace the information technology tools of the past. We don’t think much of it when we go to Google and ask a question and get immediate responses, sometimes before we finish asking the question. That kind of capability is going to becoming widespread, eliminating human inputs and impacting jobs. Tata companies in this space will need to reinvent themselves,” said Tata.

Tata group company TAL Manufacturing Solutions, a 100 percent of subsidiary of Tata Motors has a facility in Pune that can make 3,000 robots a year. The company, in April this year, launched a highly indigenized robot called Brabo priced in the range of Rs 5-7 lakh.

Brabo is used in small foundaries, for machining, by auto comp vendors, for sealant application, packing and end-of-line inspection. At least 25 such robots are operational in automotive and non-automotive sectors requiring chamfering, testing and validation, assembly and vision-based inspection and a further 30 are installed as samples in various factories.

Tata Capital, the financial services arm of the Tata group, recently unveiled its artificial intelligence (AI) based online Chatbot which, through its unique natural language and cognitive learning capabilities, understands and provides a response to individual online queries around its financial services products.

According to Tata Consultancy Services Global Trend Study almost one-third of companies believe that by 2020 artificial intelligence (AI) will have a significant impact on sales, marketing or customer service while one in five see AI’s impact being largest in non-customer facing corporate functions, including finance, strategic planning, corporate development and HR.

On being asked if there were any apprehension about the way technology is changing the very nature of human beings Tata said “This has been happening for a while now, except that different skills were being created, or that different skills were being demanded of humans. Now we are going beyond human beings and building intelligence that can in some way replicate human thinking. Automation will surely become a big part of the running of businesses, even the making of business decisions of a limited nature”.

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Biplab Ghosh

Biplab lives his life around technology and is particularly keen to explore the intersection of technology and human behaviour. Always looking for new ideas, and ways that can make things simpler. He is a geek with the flair for travel and has great passion for music and theatres.

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