July 05, 2021: “Connecting Artificial Intelligence (AI), the single biggest technological breakthrough of our times, with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is the only way to ensure that the benefits of technology reach the largest number of people in the largest possible way. The adoption of AI is inevitable for us to achieve necessary progress in the areas of elimination of poverty and hunger, fight climate change, inequality, injustice, and creation of sustainable cities and communities, among other social good targets,” said experts.
Addressing a four-day International Symposium on “Artificial Intelligence for Social Good”, organized by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, during June 30-July 3, 2021, the experts pointed out that research in the field of AI is on the rise globally. India is no different. In 2020, about 6% of all technology-related patents filed in the country were related to AI. Given the increasing recognition and visibility of AI, it is high time people in the industry and government discussed the potential applications of AI in addressing various social challenges.
About 46 academicians, researchers, and industry experts from nine countries addressed the thematic sessions of the symposium on novel research areas including AI and Accessibility, Agriculture, Autonomous Vehicles, Healthcare and Well-being, Safety & Surveillance and Smart Environments. Over 2,500 people attended this virtual event.
In his keynote address, Professor Rajat Moona, Director, IIT Bhilai, said, “AI’s potential in the areas of offering personalized and adaptive learning solutions is largely untapped. In addition to helping students learn a subject in multiple ways, AI can also help identify at-risk students in need of counseling. He said that the fear of AI is unwarranted. “AI is here to make our natural intelligence better and our decisions better.” He also pointed out the need for more investment in the areas of data security and data inclusivity.
Dr. Rajendra Kumar, IAS, Additional Secretary, MeitY, in his address, emphasized the need to align AI applications with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and to maximize the technology’s positive impact on society. He cited the potential of employing AI in diagnosis of diseases, and surveillance. In education, AI can be used to identify aptitudes of students accurately and help them make better learning and career choices. Dr. Kumar also highlighted India’s growing visibility as a global technology leader. “In a big leap, India has jumped 37 places to be ranked 10th in Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) 2020,” he pointed out.
In her address, Dr. Tapati Bandopadhyay, Chair & CEO, AISWITCH Technologies Pvt Ltd, said that in India, AI is now adopted extensively but there are no robust data governance frameworks in place, which is a cause for concern. She emphasized that trust and transparency are the two cornerstones of successful implementation of AI and data tech. She said that in the Indian context, the NITI Aayog is working towards creating a robust data governance framework, which is essential in the increasingly data-driven world. Dr Bandopahdyay expressed concern over the lack of adequate representation of women in AI. “The future of AI is better in girls’ hands,” she said.
Professor Venu Govindaraju, SUNY Distinguished Professor, University at Buffalo, USA, in his address, highlighted the various ways in which AI can be applied for social good. “One of them is to make use of real time data and AI analytics, as opposed to survey results and census data, while addressing poverty eradication. The data ecosystem can include mobile phone data, satellite imagery, weather data, economic data, and AI can help processing heterogeneous data to give different views of poverty, model the uncertainties, and fill in the missing data and come up with ways to combat poverty,” he said.
In her theme address, Professor Prema Nedungadi, Director, AmritaCREATE, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, said, “AI is certainly the single largest technology revolution in our times. A disruptive technology like AI needs to be seen from the perspective of the transformative impact it can have on the greater social good by improving the quality of life of people and helping them create and access choices.” She said that the areas that require urgent attention include access to quality health facilities, providing real-time advisory to farmers, and building smart and efficient cities and infrastructures to meet the demands of rapidly urbanizing populations.
She pointed out that Amrita University is a key partner on several AI projects of the Indian government. Among them is the project that aims at enhancing the accessibility of Indian Sign Language across UMANG (Unified Mobile Application for New-Age Governance) a single digital platform for all Indian citizens to access pan India e-Gov services ranging from central to Local Government bodies. As an Institution of Eminence, Amrita has accelerated investments in AI Labs along with focused and interdisciplinary research.
The international symposium witnessed the participation of research scholars and students in poster presentations and Ph.D. colloquium. The event served as an excellent platform for AI enthusiasts from the industry, academicians, and students to stay up-to-date on the latest research trends. To make the virtual symposium accessible and inclusive, registration was made free and open to all.
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