Over the coming week, top executives from Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc. will tour India to court the country’s millions of programmers and promote the use of artificial intelligence services in a vital market.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will speak to developers and technologists about “discovering new opportunities with AI” during a visit to Bengaluru, the country’s technological hub, next week.
He will also speak with industry experts in Mumbai about the prospects and challenges of next-generation AI.
Separately, Google’s head scientist, Jeff Dean, will speak to researchers, developers, and startups in Bengaluru about AI’s next frontier, followed by a fireside chat about India’s role in enabling AI to drive tremendous societal impact.
The competing appearances emphasise India’s relevance to both businesses and the larger AI market. With over 5 million programmers, India is emerging as one of the major sources of AI talent for startups and global corporations, at a time when AI talent is frequently in short supply. During a tour of India last year, Nvidia Corp. CEO Jensen Huang stated that the country has the potential to become the world’s greatest supplier of AI talent.
“There will be a global shift towards AI in the next five to ten years, and Indian developers will be at the centre of it,” said Nandan Nilekani, chairman of Infosys Ltd., Asia’s second-largest technology services provider.
Both Nadella and Google CEO Sundar Pichai grew up in India and studied engineering there before moving to the United States for doctoral studies. For both, the AI drive might define their careers. Pichai has called the shift to AI “bigger than the internet,” while Nadella has hailed it as “Microsoft’s moment.”
Ahmed Mazhari, president of Microsoft Asia, cited developer activity on GitHub, a Microsoft-owned developer site, as evidence of India’s growing impact on artificial intelligence. “Today, one out of every four AI projects on GitHub comes from India,” Mazhari said in a statement. “By 2026, India will have surpassed the United States.” India is perfectly positioned to facilitate large-scale AI adoption, both domestically and internationally.
Microsoft has stated that it will train 100,000 engineers in India on the most modern AI technologies and tools. Last year, Nasscom, India’s technology sector trade association, reported over half a million developers specialising in AI and data science.
“It’s reasonable to expect a lot more top AI companies to head to India,” said Sangeeta Gupta, Nasscom’s senior vice president. According to her, prominent technology services businesses such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. and Infosys are investing heavily in AI and training hundreds of thousands of engineers. “Enterprises want to adopt AI, and developers can speed up the transition,” she went on to say.