country head, Intel India, talks about emerging technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence (AI) and the evolving role of Intel amid this change. Dwelling on the need for reskilling, Ms. Rai adds that by 2019, every employee at Intel India, including non-engineers, will be trained in AI. Edited excerpts:
How do you see Intel’s role changing amid emerging technologies such as 5G and AI?
Intel has been evolving over so many years. The customers we have now vary from Dell, Lenovo, Sony to all the way to Mercedes, Ford, GM to Reliance, Airtel, and Vodafone as well as Nokia and Ericsson. There are some very interesting changes but what I absolutely love is that in broadband technologies such as 5G, Intel is involved from end-to-end.
I believe Intel has a huge role to play in making 5G a success. We are working with telecom providers around the world as well as local players.
My belief is that Intel India is also contributing to the local needs.
While we are building urban India solutions, we are also looking at rural solutions
What is Intel’s role in driving 5G?
Me as Intel India head, am the chairman for two consortia — Nasscom 5G consortium and another created by Broadband India Forum (BIF). The BIF committee is trying to drive 4-5 different unique field trials and identify use cases which are valuable to India. A few use cases that we are looking at are public safety, then augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) for an immersive experience for example for a mall in a rural area. Flipkart is interested in this and so is Amazon. Another thing we are looking at is industrial robotics. Also, when we talk about network slicing, can we have priority defined for public safety and dedicate a slice for such kind of use cases. With Nasscom consortium, I am trying to drive policy influencing.
Many experts have said that B2B use cases will drive 5G…
I beg to differ. If you think of three scenarios [for 5G], first is enhanced mobile broadband, second is the Internet of Things (IoT)- kind machine communication and third is ultra reliable low-latency kind of situation. If you look at enhanced mobile broadband, it definitely [addresses] consumer. You know what 5G will do? It will enable an 8k display on your phone. So, it is consumer and because the latency of 5G is so small and the bandwidth is so large, the use cases vary from 8k display on phone to an instant download of video and all the way to remote surgery as well as remote education as well as drone-based safety. So, I really feel that use cases are so many that it combines businesses all the way to consumer.
Do you think India is losing its position as a leader in technological skills with new emerging technologies?
I actually think it’s an opportunity for India. AI requires mathematicians, statisticians and programmers. I believe we have it all. From my generation to yours, all our parents pushed us for maths and science, so we have lot of math and science kids. We have statisticians and we have programmers. All we have to do is help understand the slight change that AI needs, and leverage skills for data analytics and building algorithms.
I do agree that reskilling will be required. At Intel, last year we trained 90,000 people in AI and we had a goal of training 20,000 people. The goal I have taken with India Intel employees is that by the end of 2019, everybody in Intel India will be AI-trained, whether engineer or non-engineer. The HR will also be trained. Any one who takes a level 2 class, will be asked to show an AI use case in their work space. Anybody who takes a level 3 class, will have to create IP. AI training, reskilling is a need but it is not hard or impossible. Similarly, there are other technologies such as blockchain. We have signed an MoU with the Kerala government to build an academy for blockchain and training them.
But does India need 5G, given that even current networks don’t work well?
The field trials for the application that we are considering, the requirement was that this cannot work on 4G. It needs the latency, it needs the bandwidth of a 5G to enable this. For example, let’s take a safety requirement.
There is a building on fire. I need the connectivity. I need the fastest access and the widest bandwidth. The goal of the consortium is to look at needs that can only be met with 5G.
And I believe that there are so many use cases that 4G and 5G have to coexist. It doesn’t mean that since you are doing 5G you kill 4G. However, all of the infrastructure requirements that a 5G will need, if it enhances 4G, let’s do it now. 5G is connecting everyone and everything and as a result, creating use cases which in turn are life changers.
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