Thursday, June 20, 2024

Formulate regulatory framework to check monopoly in AI, says Zoho’s Sridhar Vembu

The Centre should formulate a regulatory framework with broad consultations in order to ensure no one monopolises the emerging field of Artificial Intelligence, and also to avert job losses and crippling of the nation’s economy, Sridhar Vembu, chief executive officer and co-founder of Zoho Corporation, has said.

“Like the powerlooms destroyed the traditional weavers, AI may wipe out over 3 million tech jobs in the near future if such a monopoly is allowed in this field,” Mr. Vembu told reporters at Zoho’s facility at Maththalampaarai near Tenkasi on Monday.

A country like India has a demographic and technological edge over others and hence, it is all the more necessary not to allow monopoly in AI by framing appropriate policies as it would decimate tech jobs and consequently the country’s economy.

“If the magical AI were to produce all goods and service without human labour, how can we pay for those goods because there will be no jobs and hence no income. Any monopoly in AI will surely create such a situation which should not be allowed to happen by framing appropriate policies,” Mr. Vembu said.

On Zoho’s expansion plans, Mr. Sridhar said the tech major that decided to follow the hub-and-spoke model of offices in 2020 to cater to the distributed workforce–as part of its ‘transnational localism’–would continue on this path. While the hub offices accommodate 1,000 or more employees, the spoke offices have 100 employees.

 Zoho has hub offices at Chennai, Tenkasi and Renigunta and around 30 spoke offices in rural and tier-2 or tier-3 towns. Of the 2,000 employees working in the hub and spoke offices, 1,000 employees have been hired locally.

“As part of the rural empowerment efforts, the spoke offices periodically conduct free career awareness sessions in surrounding colleges and upskilling workshops and incubation programmes to identify and hire talented local youths. Many of product development teams today sit out of these hubs and spoke offices including some teams that are involved in deep-tech research and development. The long-term vision of these efforts is to create self-sufficient and economically prosperous rural communities,” Mr. Sridhar said adding that he would be visiting Uttar Pradesh shortly to identify a suitable place for opening its office. “It will come-up in rural UP and certainly not in Noida.”

Zoho’s offices under construction at Tharuvai near Tirunelveli and Kappalur in Madurai would be ready for operation within the next 3 months. Each office is expected to accomodate 300 persons initially, he said.

Mr. Sridhar and T. Santhi Murugesan, head of Zoho School of Technology, also gave a glimpse of Zoho’s ‘Catch them young’ programme in which the tech major mentors rural students for two years after completing Plus Two with carefully designed training modules and stipends starting from ₹10,000. “Hence, we’re training these future technocrats in financial management also,” Ms. Santhi said.

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