India has ushered in a data revolution, changing the financial landscape of the country and ensuring the inclusion of a larger part of the population in the digital mainstream. Indian businesses, the government and individuals have, in recent years, seen multiple use cases of artificial intelligence (AI) in various facets of life. Digital assistants, cab aggregators, biometric recognition, targeted advertisements and online recommendation engines are among the more common AI applications used today in the country.
The need for advanced AI-focused innovation holds the opportunity to unlock a multi-trillion-dollar economy for India. In this context, Indian companies have identified this opportunity and the importance of AI expertise, which is why AI Specialist is one of the most sought after job roles in India, according to LinkedIn’s third-annual Emerging Jobs Report. Professionals and students are enrolling in AI and related courses in large numbers, so much so that India stands third when it comes to penetration of AI skills, after the USA and China.
But when it comes to spearheading the adoption of AI and fostering its growth among the various stakeholders in India, there aren’t many companies taking the lead, given the dearth of AI expertise in the country. In this article, we look at a particular company which is leading the AI race for India — Intel. The tech giant has been working actively to harness the benefits of AI for India for quite some time now.
For Intel, India is of major importance which is why the company runs one of its largest engineering centers here. In fact, Intel’s AI teams in India work on building the central engine of the core IP for the company. Intel has established a culture of continuous learning, knowledge transfer and upskilling in collaboration with the Indian government1 and other prominent organizations.
Intel Runs a Wide Range of AI Initiatives in the Country
Intel’s involvement in boosting the growth of AI in India is multi-pronged and it is difficult to summarize it all into one single program or technology project. Intel offers a wide range of academy courses, tools and a community of professional developers in India, which different stakeholders, be it government or private bodies, are utilizing to advance their AI objectives.
For example, to ensure India’s industry-readiness amongst technology professionals and prepare them for the ever-changing future of work, Intel India has been working with top academic institutes and the government to develop and train learners on the latest AI curriculum. Its diverse training initiatives target different segments of the nation’s talent and help educate learners using unique pedagogy and curriculum on AI. Intel India works closely with top academic institutes and the government to integrate the latest AI curriculum with its cutting-edge AI portfolio.
According to Prakash Mallya, Vice President and Managing Director – Sales and Marketing Group, Intel India, the company is actively involved in building AI for India, including governance, fundamental research, compute needs, service infrastructure, and talent development. “Intel India is taking a holistic approach to AI for India. We’re joining hands with industry, ecosystem, academia and government of India to develop fast emerging use-cases. We fund cutting-edge research, internal R&D, invest in leading innovators and drive policy/ethics leadership,” stated Mallya.
Preparing India for AI Skills
Programs such as AI for Youth2 have been created with the goal of training India’s young learners. The AI for Youth program is engaged with the government and top universities to enable India’s youth with AI-ready training. It includes an immersive, hands-on, four-stage learning course which spans 254 hours and focuses on creating industry-ready skillsets on AI.
Giving a further boost to Intel’s AI for Youth initiative, the company has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), outlining initiatives geared towards increasing the pace of AI integration in India’s education system, covering more than 20,000 schools.
By enrolling in the Intel® AI Academy3, Indian developers gain access to free training, cloud computing in the Intel® AI DevCloud, and other resources to inspire their projects. As part of the Intel AI Academy, the company has trained more than 150,000 developers4 till date.
Apart from that, events such as the Intel® AIDC Summit5 and Intel® AI DevCamp are ongoing activities. Such events are part of the Intel AI Academy, and take place across different cities and give developers hands-on experience with Intel’s AI hardware and software portfolio. Intel’s developer-focused events offer the chance to participate in labs and network with leading experts.
“Via initiatives like Intel AI Academy, Student Ambassador Program for AI and AI for Youth, we’ve trained 150,000 developers, students and professors across 150 organizations in 2 years. The aim is to build a workforce of innovators and entrepreneurs, who will unlock the potential of AI for India,” said Mallya.
Supporting AI Startups in India
Intel has been enabling and mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs on emerging technologies like AI/ML with productization, and go-to-market strategies. Working with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) – Government of India, and Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE)-IIT Bombay, Intel India has declared the third edition of Plugin, a one-year collaborative incubator program for hardware and systems software startups.
Startups in the field of AI and machine learning (ML) receive mentoring and training, along with access to resources such as labs for cutting-edge tools and Intel’s technical and monetary support, besides ecosystem expansion through Intel’s links. Multiple AI/ML startups working in computer vision, natural language processing, hardware design and software have benefitted from Plugin to scale their business. This collaborative program also promotes infrastructure and technical support, prototyping, product development and manufacturing connect from Intel India Maker Lab and SINE-IIT Bombay.
Collaboration with India’s Academic and Government Institutions to Foster AI
Working with NITI Aayog and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Intel has also announced a model International Center for Transformative AI (ICTAI) with a goal of building and executing AI-enabled applications and research work. This project comes under NITI Aayog’s ‘National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence’ Discussion Paper that centered on setting up ICTAI in India via partnership with the private sector. The facility, located in Bengaluru, aims to conduct advanced research to nurture AI-led solutions across three major areas – healthcare, agriculture and smart mobility – by drawing together the expertise of Intel and TIFR collectively.
“In India, through the AI-for-All initiative, we aim to deliver the twin goals of solving hard problems of humanity and helping India achieve its vision of global AI leader, by bringing together a rich ecosystem of research, innovation, technology development and deployment. We take immense pride in being the Industry lead along with NITI Aayog and TIFR, and I believe the model ICTAI will pave the way for application-based AI research and solutions needed in India for critical domains such as healthcare, agriculture, and smart mobility,” said Nivruti Rai, Country Head – Intel India, and Vice President, Data Center Group, at the time of the announcement.
Intel has also worked alongside other academic institutes to advance research in AI. For example, Intel has collaborated with the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H) as part of a massive effort6 to collect and open source the world’s largest unstructured dataset to train algorithms for both autonomous driving and city planning. This dataset is based on 50,000 photograph frames captured at 1080p and 720p resolution by a front-facing camera mounted on a car that was driven around Hyderabad and Bangalore and includes 10,000 segmentation annotations, marked drivable and non-drivable areas, in addition to vehicles and objects.
“Education, research and development (R&D), and regulatory landscape are 3 key foundation stones to build AI talent in India. I think it is the collective responsibility of the industry, corporates, academia, and the government to implement these foundations in India,” said Mallya.
3Intel AI Academy: https://software.intel.com/en-us/ai/academy
Vishal Chawla is a senior tech journalist at Analytics India Magazine and writes about AI, data analytics, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and blockchain. Vishal also hosts AIM's video podcast called Simulated Reality- featuring tech leaders, AI experts, and innovative startups of India.