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NITI Aayog & Microsoft India ink agreement to democratise access to AI
Friday, 19 October, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Furthering their shared commitment to democratise access to artificial intelligence (AI), NITI Aayog and Microsoft India announced an agreement recently to leverage its benefits for the growth of the nation.

As a part of the agreement, Microsoft India will support NITI Aayog by combining the cloud, AI, research and its vertical expertise for new initiatives and solutions across several core areas, including agriculture, healthcare and the environment.

Microsoft will also accelerate the use of AI for the development and adoption of local language computing, in addition to building capacity for AI among the workforce through education.

Announcing the agreement, Amitabh Kant, chief executive officer, NITI Aayog, said, ”For our country, the power of artificial intelligence needs to be brought to bear in sectors like healthcare, education, environment and agriculture, which are important for the inclusive development of India.”

“Simultaneously, we should utilise the power of AI to build understanding of the different regional languages prevalent in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call of Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat. This partnership will help us move beyond pilots and understand how to scale AI implementation in sectors characterised by a preponderance of public goods,” he added.

Speaking on the association, Anant Maheshwari, president, Microsoft India, said, “We are very proud to support NITI Aayog in driving the next leg of India’s transformational journey. AI holds the power to reinvent how we solve societal challenges for socio-economic advancement and support the country’s growth.”

“Microsoft is constantly pushing the boundaries of what technology can do for people and for the world. This collaboration reiterates our efforts to empower every person and organisation to do more through technology,” he added.

Under the agreement, Microsoft will provide Niti Aayog the following advanced AI-based solutions to address challenges in agriculture and healthcare:

Farm advisory services
The company will develop farm advisory services to help increase crop yield, pest detection and pest incident predictions as part of projects across locations identified by NITI Aayog. This will involve applying data science, remote sensing and image processing applications to crop maps, yield data and weather data collected over five years. The pest risk detection model will provide information five days in advance of expected attacks.

Societal impact projects
For societal impact projects, Microsoft Research India (MSRI) will set up a Microsoft–NITI Aayog Problem to Solution Incubation Test Bed within its premises in Bengaluru to develop AI-driven solutions for societal problems mutually identified with NITI Aayog.

In its work to deploy AI everywhere, Microsoft is taking an approach in designing AI innovations that extend and empower human capabilities. The company said that its approach to AI puts users in control, with intelligence that is transparent and secure, and sets the highest bar for protecting privacy, while also being inclusive.
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