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IIT Delhi Joins IBM’s AI Horizons Network To Accelerate New Tech Research In India

IIT Delhi Joins IBM’s AI Horizons Network To Accelerate New Tech Research In India

Srishti Deoras

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Photo Caption 1: L-R (Mausam, Associate Prof. Dept. CSE; Sachindra Joshi, Senior Manager, IBM Research; Sanjiva Prasad, Professor & Head, Department of Computer Science & Engineering; L Venkat Subramaniam, Senior Manager, IBM Research; Prof. V. Ramgopal Rao, Director, IIT Delhi; Michael Karasick, Vice President, Global Labs, IBM Research; Prof M Balakrishnan, Dy Director (S&P); Sriram Raghavan, Vice President, IBM Research- India & Singapore & CTO IBM India/ South Asia; Srikanta Bedathur, Associate Prof. Dept. CSE)

It was just two months ago that IBM had announced an association with IIT Bombay to accelerate artificial intelligence research in India. This was the first institution outside North America to join the IBM AI Horizons Network. Now, IBM has announced that it has collaborated with IIT Delhi in a multi-year deal to work on AI.

With this collaboration, IIT Delhi becomes one of the select institutions in India to join the network which also includes the likes of University of Michigan, Universite de Montreal, the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, UC San Diego and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and more. IBM works with over eight universities globally.

In a brief conversation with Analytics India Magazine, Dr Venkat Subramaniam, Senior Manager at IBM Research India, shared, “It [IIT-D] is a natural choice, given that it is one of the top academic institutions working in the area of AI and has world-renowned faculty in this space. There are synergies we can draw between the work we do at IBM Research lab and IIT Delhi students and faculties.”

Key Focus Areas Of The Collaboration

The aim is to discover novel AI techniques which can help organisations take informed decisions by being able to logically reason with their AI systems. AI solutions will be trained to comprehend complex questions using natural language techniques and derive new insights using domain knowledge.

“The key areas include text and image comprehension, knowledge representation and reasoning. We will also work on making AI more transparent, where the machine is able to explain its reasoning process to a human user. We will apply these scientific advances to areas like medicine, financial services, technical support, agriculture,” told Dr Subramaniam to AIM.

The company believes that today AI system is not trained to explain its decision-making process. With this partnership, IBM researchers along with professors from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at IIT Delhi would aim to address this issue and conduct joint research to inculcate some key traits such as reasoning, comprehension and inferencing in AI systems.

For instance, a procurement analyst may not be able to decide the right price for a commodity based on the recommendations shared by a trained AI assistant without knowing why it made those suggestions. The research will benefit sectors such as healthcare and medicine, finance, and customer support which deals with a complex set of questions and require reasoning.

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“While working with AI systems, organisations require explicit reasoning and comprehension to reach a particular conclusion. We believe advancement in AI can tackle such problems”, said Michael Karasick, Vice President, Global Labs, IBM Research in the press statement.

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Speaking on the relevance of collaboration Prof V Ramgopal Rao, Director, IIT Delhi, said “India has immense talent to accelerate innovation in AI and related technologies. We are happy to collaborate with IBM Research scientists and provide opportunities to our students and faculty colleagues to work on some of the complex problems around AI and apply the solutions to real-world scenarios.”

“As an academic institution students and faculty are more tuned to the theoretical aspects of AI and by providing them real-life problems, IBM along with IIT Delhi wants to address the key research challenges. The future is about AI and through this collaboration with IIT Delhi, IBM also hopes to train the next generation workforce to work in cutting-edge problems in the AI field”, said Dr Subramaniam in an exclusive interaction with AIM, on why the company prefers collaboration with universities.

The teams plan to publish their research in peer-reviewed academic journals and release datasets and open challenges to the research community to identify new areas in making AI decisions better. Some of the focus areas include deep learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and others, as well as their application to big societal challenges, ranging from aiding the understanding of disease to education and cybersecurity.

On being asked about the progress with IIT Bombay, he told AIM that students and faculty from IIT-B along with IBM researchers have already begun working on imparting AI systems with the ability to comprehend spoken, written and visual data so that can drive their decision-making ability in a better way. “We will have some exciting announcements to share in the near future”, he said while signing off.

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