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NITI Aayog, Google Collaborate To Help AI Ecosystem Grow

Aiming to foster growth for India’s nascent artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) ecosystem, NITI Aayog and Google have come together to work on a range of initiatives to help build the AI ecosystem across the country.

National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, the Indian Government’s premier think tank, has been entrusted to setup a national programme to conduct research and development in frontier technologies such as AI. In furtherance of this mandate, NITI Aayog has been developing India’s national strategy on AI along with the National Data and Analytics Portal to enable the wide deployment and use of AI.

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. AI is a key enabler for solving problems for its users, customers, and society.

Globally, Google has been working with researchers, companies and developers and arming them with tools to solve complex problems with machine learning. These include but are not limited to the open-source machine learning framework TensorFlow, custom-built machine learning chips TPUs, Cloud AI––a suite of products to help businesses build their own machine learning powered services from pre-trained APIs to Cloud AutoML and the Cloud Machine Learning Engine. Google has also made available a set of educational resources about machine learning and AI, including a free online machine learning crash course that anyone can use to learn and practice machine learning concepts.

Google and NITI Aayog will work on the following initiatives:

  • Organise training for relevant government functionaries to introduce them to open source AI tools with the goal of enabling more effective governance.
  • Awarding grants and scholarships to researchers, scholars and university faculty conducting cutting edge research in the field of AI/ML in India.
  • Organising AI/ML study jams for students and developers based on Google’s Machine Learning Crash Course (MLCC) on the fundamentals of machine learning
  • Incubating Indian AI/ML startups in a program where they will be mentored by Google to better leverage AI in their respective business models.
  • Organise a Hackathon focused on using AI/ML and open data sets to solve key challenges within agriculture, education, healthcare, etc. in India

Commenting on the association, Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog said, “Artificial Intelligence is going to disrupt the way business is done and India, in particular, is uniquely poised in utilising AI to innovate for social and inclusive good. India is embracing future technologies such as machine learning and AI to augment its capacity in healthcare, improve outcomes in education, develop innovative governance systems for our citizens and improve overall economic productivity of the nation. NITI’s partnership with Google will unlock massive training initiatives, support startups and encourage AI research through PhD scholarships, all of which contributes to the larger idea of a technologically-empowered New India.”

Rajan Anandan, vice president, India and South East Asia added, “Artificial intelligence has the potential to improve people’s lives in profound ways — from helping diagnose diseases and breaking down language barriers to making businesses more efficient. And we’re just at the beginning of what’s possible. We believe that ultimately, AI will help tackle huge challenges like healthcare, environmental protection and other social and developmental problems, while also spur innovation for businesses and developers.”

Under the aegis of this program, Google will train and incubate Indian AI startups in an accelerator program. These startups will be mentored and coached by Google and its affiliates to enable them to better leverage AI in their respective business models.

To help bolster the research ecosystem, one of the initiatives includes funding Indian researchers, scholars and university faculty for conducting AI-based research. Further, Google will also bring its online training courses on AI to students, graduates and engineers to numerous cities across India, in the form of study groups and developer-run courses.

NITI Aayog and Google will organize a AI/ML hackathon that will be focused on solving key challenges within agriculture, education, healthcare, financial inclusion, transportation/mobility and more. This hackathon may use Kaggle, a global platform, to help facilitate international participation into these planned hackathon challenges.

Google via NITI Aayog, will conduct hands-on training programs that aim to sensitise policymakers and technical experts in governments about relevant AI tools, and how they can be used to streamline governance. – CIO

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