NITI Aayog, Google to partner on AI

The policy think tank of the Government of India and the USA-based technology giant will jointly develop and expand India’s artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) ecosystem, through training, hackathons and financing

May 7, 2018

The NITI Aayog has been entrusted to setup a national programme to conduct research and development in frontier technologies such as AI; AI is touted to disrupt trade and investment and India

India is embracing technologies such as ML and AI to augment capacity in healthcare, improve outcome in education, develop innovative governance systems and improve overall economic productivity

Under the initiative, Google will train and incubate Indian AI startups in an accelerator program to enable them to better leverage AI in business; Currently there are over 200 AI-focussed startups across India

India has allocated over US$450 million in Union Budget 2018-19 to boost capacity in AI, ML, Robotics, Internet of Things, 3D printing, Blockchain, Big Data analysis, Quantum Communication, among others

The National Institution for Transforming India, or the NITI Aayog, a policy think tank of the Government of India, has signed a statement of intent (SoI) with Google LLC, an American multinational technology company, to jointly work on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).  NITI Aayog and Google will develop and expand India’s nascent AI and ML ecosystem by focusing on training, hackathons, mentoring of startups and provision of research grants. The NITI Aayog has been entrusted to setup a national programme to conduct research and development in frontier technologies such as AI. Artificial intelligence, or intelligence induced by technology, is touted to lead future innovations globally. This is is particular significance to India, where significant socio-economic improvement can be achieved with the help of the latest in technology. In line with this, NITI Aayog has been developing India’s national strategy on AI along with the National Data and Analytics Platform to enable the wide deployment and use of AI.

Amitabh Kant, the chief executive of NITI Aayog, said that AI was going to disrupt trade and investment and India, in particular, was uniquely poised in utilising AI to innovate for social and inclusive good. India is embracing future technologies such as ML and AI to augment its capacity in healthcare, improve outcome in education, develop innovative governance systems and improve overall economic productivity of the nation. Mr Kant added that 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. 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. Currently there are more than 200 AI-focussed startups across India.

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 and engineers to 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 and more. This hackathon may use Kaggle, a global platform by Google, to help facilitate participation in planned global hackathon challenges. Google through NITI Aayog, will conduct hands-on training programs to sensitise policymakers and technical experts in governments about relevant AI tools. India has allocated over US$450 million in Union Budget 2018-19 for to boost capacity in  AI, ML, Robotics, Internet of Things, 3D printing, Blockchain, Big Data analysis, Quantum Communication, among other.