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. Google believes that AI will help tackle huge challenges like healthcare, environmental protection and other social and developmental problems, while also spurring innovation for businesses and developers.
The opportunity is huge and not constrained by location – a company in Bangalore or Gurgaon could serve the whole world. In fact, a recent report by Accenture concluded that India, by embracing AI technologies could add nearly $1 trillion to its GDP by 2035.
India already has some of the key ingredients to becoming a major force in leading the next generation of disruptive innovation in machine learning (ML): a tech-savvy talent pool, renowned universities, healthy levels of entrepreneurship and strong corporations. This does, however, require for the whole ecosystem, be it government, industry professionals, academia or the developer community to come together and identify areas and opportunities; participate and contribute to high-quality research and innovation, and turn these systems into effective business models.
Google wants to actively work with the community to foster and nurture the ecosystem. As a first step towards that, the company organised a workshop at their campus in Bangalore, to bring together a cross-section of the AI and ML community in India.
Jeff Dean, Senior Fellow, Google and Prabhakar Raghavan, VP, Apps Google Cloud kicked off the workshop by sharing Google’s vision for AI and the work we are doing to help businesses and developers innovate with AI. Faculty and researchers from the IITs and other leading universities, and industry practitioners from both startups and bigger companies including Amazon, Flipkart, LinkedIn, Myntra, Microsoft and Ola participated and spoke on the ongoing research and work being undertaken in India in many areas of AI/ML such as Deep Learning, Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing, ML Systems, and Generative Models.
Bringing together people from different parts of the community in a workshop is one step the Google’s seems to be taking to inspire people in India to innovate with AI. It also provides researchers, companies and developers with tools to solve complex problems with machine learning, including the open-source machine learning framework TensorFlow, custom-built machine learning chips TPUs, and 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.
Recently Google has made a set of educational resources about machine learning and AI available, including a free online machine learning crash course that anyone can use to learn and practice machine learning concepts.
Every year, Google tends to give large grants to over 250 academic research projects worldwide, supports PhD students, and hosts thousands of interns. At the event in Bangalore, the company announced an additional focused award round to support five faculty members in India on their AI research proposal. This is over and above the grants, they have already made since 2012 to faculty and PhD students in India to support academic research and they are given as unrestricted grants with no return obligation (IP etc) to Google.
Likewise, for entrepreneurs, Google is working on an accelerator program, based in India, focused primarily on AI/ML technologies. The global accelerator program has already supported over 30 Indian startups of which six are focused on applied AI/ML innovation.
When every developer, entrepreneur or researcher can leverage the power of intelligent systems, there’s no limit to what AI/ML can accomplish, and that benefits all of us.