A new analysis of code-sharing platform GitHub has shown that India has eclipsed even the US when it comes to writing AI code. The new analysis conducted by the OECD of data from Microsoft-owned code-sharing platform GitHub reveals another contender in the AI race: India, which has succeeded in equipping its vast technology talent base with AI skills.
The data is gathered from public AI-related code repositories or repos that are hosted on the platform. Examining the location from where contributions, or ‘commits’, to these AI repos are made reveals that in 2019, India overtook the US as the principal source of AI-related code.
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In 2020, it accounted for 30% of all commits, double the US figure. Chinese developers may also be underrepresented on GitHub – last year, the country launched its own equivalent – but they are not absent, the OECD says.
This also reflects an impetus to upskill India’s vast technology talent base that was initiated by the country’s IT services companies. The recent evolution of India’s economy means they will not be the only ones to benefit.
“We always talk about the two main players. But India is emerging as a third, so perhaps it’s time to turn our attention in that direction as well. The data suggests that India’s AI prowess has been underestimated,” said Luis Aranda, AI policy analyst at the OECD.
Analysis by CSET shows that four US corporate AI powerhouses (Facebook, Google, Microsoft and IBM) have five AI labs based in India between them. All five are involved in the experimental development of AI solutions.
Husan Chahal, Research Analyst at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), said, “There are issues with the PhD talent base and the supercomputers needed for high-end AI research, but in terms of getting economic value [from AI], and who is doing the crux of the work, India has a huge role to play.”
The IT services industry is no longer the only career path available to India’s technology talent. The attrition rate for some of the leading IT services providers is going through the roof, from 10-15% (annual turnover of staff) to 30% or, in some cases, 50%.
India’s start-up sector has enjoyed an explosion in investment. In the past 12 months, India’s start-ups attracted $28bn in venture capital, according to data from Crunchbase, fourth behind the US, China and the UK. AI start-ups have been especially well-funded: in 2019, AI start-up investment grew faster in India than in any other market, according to CSET.