“AI and machine learning can facilitate the deployment of frugal innovations in a world where resources are scarce”

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By Vishnu Makhijani

New Delhi, April 16 (IANS): Frugal innovations are vitally important in a resource-scarce world – and especially in a country like India – and can gain a vital head start through artificial intelligence and machine learning. , because it will ensure their optimal use, according to a new book that calls for a major step towards achieving the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

“In a world of scarce resources, the importance of frugal innovation has been well recognized. However, it should be emphasized that simply producing cheap products (e.g. via the jugaad approach) is not enough they do not provide adequate value to consumers” Malavika Dadlani, Anil Wali and Kaushik Mukerjee told IANS in a joint interview for their book, “The Art and Science of Frugal Innovation” (Penguin) which was “designed to emphasize the importance of a science-based approach while undertaking frugal innovation”.

“The role of AI, machine learning, etc. can be very important in facilitating the deployment of frugal innovations in a resource-scarce world, as they can help in more judicious use of resources,” they said.

Frugal innovations – the process of reducing the complexity and cost of a product without affecting its usefulness – “can help bridge the gap through more robust yet affordable designs and the spread of innovations. This will hopefully foster -the, egalitarianism in our societies in the future,” they said. added.

The result of a collaboration between a scientist, technologist and innovation evangelist and an associate professor of business management, the research undertaken while writing the book focused on academic papers, practitioner reports and innovations actual undertakings by various start-ups in recent years. time.

“In fact, we provide an overview of several lesser-known frugal innovations that have been pioneered by various Indian companies,” the authors said.

Thus, “The Art and Science of Frugal Innovation” is about breaking down boundaries and sharing knowledge, expertise and ideas that can lead to sustainable development for all that SDG 2030 aims for.

“Strong industry-university partnerships through contract research, from problem identification and ideation to technology development and validation, could be a way to promote the creation of a technology frugal, although it has the disadvantage of being more market-driven than societal-valued,” the authors write in the book.

“This, to some extent, can be backed up by partnering with user/consumer forums and local small/medium entrepreneurs, who are often more aware of ground-level user issues and also understand the limitations of adopting new solutions,” they said. say.

Highlighting six key areas – hunger and nutrition; climate change; air pollution; the scarcity of drinking water; Human health; and capacity building – the book states that “despite the threat, these challenges offer unique opportunities for development with frugal innovations leading the way. Indeed, from a consumerist perspective, not only developing economies, but the world as a whole will have to adopt a subsistence orientation”.

“The current trend, national policies, political and intergovernmental conversations on science, technology and innovations; the changing aspirations, lifestyles and needs of people; and the growing awareness of the value of Sustainable technology and an eco-friendly lifestyle are going to be key drivers of frugal innovations over the next decade,” the book states.

Stating that support software will play a key role in the way forward, the book notes that the Indian software industry has made its mark in the global IT industry and is exporting software worth more than Rs 14 lakh crore ($200 billion) per year.

“This prowess can be leveraged to develop frugal solutions to problems faced by India. One example is the Passport Seva Kendras which is managed by TCS. Similarly, leveraging the expertise of software companies India, the government can easily build to access solutions particularly targeted at the BOP (base of the pyramid) communities Problems that can be solved using software expertise should be identified, and appropriate resources can be allocated to find solutions through software applications,” the book says.

Emphasis should be placed on finding quick solutions to emerging problems, as the delay in many cases negates the basic purpose of offering a solution, such as a critical medical situation or expert advice on repairing a problem. a machine that breaks down in the field, especially for people. to BOP.

“A good example is the Aarogya Setu app, launched by the Indian government to contain the Covid-19 virus, by tracking the location of every Covid-19 positive person and providing this information in real time through a mobile app” , explain the authors. write.

The time has come, the book says, “for resource-poor and overcrowded countries like India to enable the development of simple, affordable and accessible solutions. Whether it is the requirement for new/better products consumption, the need to meet social challenges or To develop effective governance processes, only innovations can show us the way forward While the market will drive the demand for innovations, the success of the solutions developed will depend closely to their acceptability by consumers.

“And, to ensure a fair distribution of goods and services, only frugal innovations can be expected to deliver on their promises,” the authors write.

“While government programs should support enabling policies, testbeds and adequate development funding, other partners like industry, academia, NGOs, etc., should complement ecosystem efforts of R&D, where passionate innovators and willing institutions have integrated the mission of frugal innovations into the philosophy of sustainable growth for all,” say the authors.

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