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India may soon get a home-grown platform for Artificial Intelligence

India will host an AI summit in New Delhi next month. The summit will also feature a “Startup Pitchfest” to help startups showcase their latest AI innovations.

Here’s what to expect from India’s AI platform
Here’s what to expect from India’s AI platform (Getty Images)

India may soon get a home-grown platform for Artificial Intelligence (AI). This platform will leverage and compile existing databases that are available with the government such as Aadhaar details, land records and soil health among others. Once setup, this platform can be accessed by companies to use AI-based technologies for different sectors such as healthcare and agriculture.

"There will be a platform for AI which will ride on the databases that we have built in. For example, we do have Aadhaar database, we have a land records database, we have a soil health-card database, we have a weather database. And all these data, with regard to say farmers, is linked to geospatial coordinates. And then there is data from land records, the Aadhaar number of farmers and their mobile numbers. So, we will have all this data coming from various disparate data sources available on a common platform, and if this data is made available to AI developers, there is a possibility of building solutions which will guide the farmer to accomplish the best possible agriculture practices," Abhishek Singh, President and CEO of Digital India (National e-Governance Division (NeGD), Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) and CEO, MyGov, said in an interview to Hindustan Times.

Singh said that the body is working on a framework for the AI platform. He revealed that the platform, that is based on digital health blueprint, is already built and the agency is working on a similar platform for agriculture.

According to Singh, the potential for an AI platform for agriculture is "huge" as it will enable developers design better insurance products and frame intensive agriculture practices.

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When asked about privacy concerns, especially around Aadhaar, Singh said the solutions will conform to all the Indian laws and the global standards with regards to privacy. The platform will also ensure that whatever data is available with any authority, whether a public or private, is primarily used for social good and with the consent of the data owners.

"So, whenever we are provisioning usage of anything, including Aadhaar, there will be a consent layer involved. And consent will always be informed, fair and analysed. Whenever a user is going to give his consent for use of Aadhaar details or any other data for any service, he/she will be explained what does giving consent in this case means, what it entails, what else is there and what are the benefits? And after that, if and only if a citizen agrees only then the concerned data will be leveraged to create a framework or solution," Singh explained.

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"In our experience we have seen that wherever there is value offered to a citizen with adequate safeguards for protecting his/her data, citizens by and large do agree to give consent and avail services," he added while pointing out the data protection bill that has been proposed by the government for users' security and privacy.

MeitY is gearing for its first official summit on Artificial Intelligence called RAISE 2020, Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020, and the summit will be held in New Delhi between April 11 and April 12. Apart from participation key industry people, agencies, and private firms, the event will also host a "Startup Pitchfest".

"The idea is to bring together the entire community of startups to showcase their products to VCs, to funders, to agencies and to government departments. So, these startups at the Pitchfest can put forward their solutions, there will be buyers available - there will be buyers in the form of VCs, angel investors and there also be government departments. And once they see that there is potential in some applications and the deployment of those solutions they have been working on, either on a commercial scale or in a public environment, agreements and deals will be signed," Singh said.

The AI solutions showcased by the startups will also be tested by various government departments and further refined, customised to be scaled up. These solutions eventually will be adopted by some state governments or government departments and could also be deployed at a much larger scale nationally.

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