To nurture India’s Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning ecosystem, which is reportedly at a nascent stage, Google partnered with NITI Aayog to work on a range of initiatives, which includes training and incubating Indian startups focused on AI.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech had highlighted that technologies like Machine Learning, Artificial Iintelligence and others are the technologies of the future and Niti Aayog will establish a national programme to conduct research and development in these areas.
In the domain of Artificial Intelligence, NITI Aayog has been developing India’s national strategy on AI and is also reportedly in the advanced stages of creating the National Data and Analytics platform. The portal will be a shared India-specific blockchain infrastructure, aimed at making India a global leader on AI research, with focus on adopting AI to address problems faced in developing countries.
Earlier in April, Google conducted a four-day mentorship bootcamp in India for startups focused on AI and ML. In March this year, the global tech giant launched an AI learning platform 'Learn with Google AI', which provides ways to learn core Machine Learning (ML) concepts, develop and apply ML to real-world problems.
The NITI Aayog-Google partnership is an extension of the efforts taken by both parties to foster India’s AI and ML ecosystem. The tie-up came into effect via a Statement of Intent (SoI) signed by Anna Roy, Advisor, NITI Aayog and Rajan Anandan, Vice President, India and South East Asia, Google on May 07, 2018.
Commenting on the alliance, NITI Aayog CEO, Amitabh Kant added, “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.”
Initiatives to transform the AI ecosystem
To deliver on the promise of developing AI in India, the NITI Aayog and Google partnership will work on a range of initiatives, which includes conducting training programmes, aimed at sensitising policymakers and government functionaries about relevant AI tools, and how it can used for effective governance.
Rajan Anandan, Vice President at Google - India and South East Asia, said, “AI will help tackle huge challenges like healthcare, environmental protection, and other social and developmental problems, while also spur innovation for businesses and developers.”
NITI Aayog and Google will organise an AI/ML hackathon that will be focused on solving challenges in India’s key sectors like agriculture, education, healthcare, financial inclusion, transportation/mobility and more.
Amitabh Kant further added, "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.”
In terms of research and education, the programme will provide grants and scholarships to researchers, scholars and university faculty conducting cutting edge research in the field of AI/ML in India. 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 including Google’s Machine Learning Crash Course (MLCC).
For the startup ecosystem, Google will train and incubate Indian AI/ML startups in an accelerator programme, where the entrepreneurs will be mentored by Google for better leveraging the power of AI in their respective businesses.