Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi may have many a time missed political intelligence in combatting his arch rival Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but he is keen to emerge pivotal to bring artificial intelligence to the country.
While Modi is scheduling atleast two visits to Gujarat in September to galvanise the BJP for the forthcoming assembly elections, Gandhi will spend a week in the Silicon Valley in the US to learn about the nitty-gritty of artificial intelligence. Gandhi, 47, had recently skipped a 'Mahagatbandhan' rally in Patna, preferring to visit Norway on the invitation of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"Many important think-tanks of Silicon Valley at the San Francisco Bay are converging to discuss the artificial intelligence, the future technology. Rahulji is greatly interested in making India a leader in the artificial intelligence as some years later software technology will lose its sheen," a senior Congress leader told DNA, confirming Rahul's plans.
Among other programmes, Gandhi will also participate in a round table at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. He will be accompanied by family friend Sam Pitroda, and is also expected to attend a host of other events with Non Resident Indians (NRIs), venture capitalists and early stage investors in California.
Gandhi, now expected to take over as party president after completion of organisational poll exercise over next two months, has angered party workers and leaders due to his frequent trips abroad leaving workers in lurch. "I am aghast to know that he is again off to US after returning from Oslo. Do we need to connect with voters here or think-tanks there? Crucial assembly elections are due. What exactly is our strategy? We have no idea," said a party leader.
Congress takes credit for bringing computer technology to India with late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi teaming up with Sam Pitroda to ensue a technological revolution. "We have become world leaders in software. We cannot become leaders in hardware, as there is no manufacturing base here. But age of software may not last long. Like China India also needs to invest heavily in artificial intelligence that is future technology," said another Congress leader, defending Rahul's visit. Waving an old black telephone to the audience in Bangalore ahead of 2014 general elections , Gandhi had illustrated how the telecom revolution led by his late father and Pitroda had opened up the system and brought the world at our finger tips.
The new era in Silicon Valley centers on artificial intelligence and robots. There are at least 19 companies designing self-driving cars and trucks, up from a handful five years ago. There are also more than a half-dozen types of mobile robots, including robotic bellhops and aerial drones, being commercialized.
Last July, China unveiled a grandiose plan on artificial intelligence. Experts believe that realizing that its population was aging due to strict adhere of one-child policy for years, Chinese government is now investing heavily on artificial intelligence to avoid any labour shortage in coming years. By 2030, China intends to become the world's premier artificial intelligence innovation center to address a range of economic, governance, and societal challenges. Since China's economic growth has started to slow, Beijing hopes that the intelligence can serve as a "new engine" to advance future economic development through unleashing a new scientific revolution and industrial transformation.
Congress leaders argue that like his father, Gandhi has a vision to compete with China in making India a leader in artificial intelligence. But there are many pessimists in the party itself, who believe that the leader should bank on ground intelligence rather importing from outside to atleast bring some optimism within party cadres. At the height of farmers agitation that he had led for week last June in the sultry heat, suddenly he announced to visit his grandmother in London. His track -record of vanishing particularly at a time when political weather in Delhi shoots up has left many party men aghast.