Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, the first among the IITs, has launched a new department of cognitive science. The aim of establishing this fully-fledged department of cognitive science is to devise futuristic technology to understand the human mind.
According to IIT Kanpur, it will be done by understanding, mirroring and adapting the complexity of the perception and processes of the human mind. The institute further believes that the initiative will be of great importance in mapping traditional Indian knowledge and understanding of the architecture of the human mind with futuristic technology.
With last year’s visit by a team of cognitive science experts as a part of the national advisory committee, the department was established at IIT Kanpur as a recommendation given its strengths in teaching and research in the area over the last couple of decades.
When asked about establishing a separate department for cognitive science, Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Director, IIT Kanpur stated that it is to provide impetus to the research and teaching programs in cognitive science at the institute. Not only this new department will address this gap, but will also help the country to become a leader in the field of cognitive science.
The department will work on understanding the human mind and its mechanisms involved in mental processes and interface on neuroscience-related areas. It will also collaborate with other departments like computer sciences and engineering in order to develop new artificially intelligent and machine-learning interfaces, stated professor Karandikar.
The department of cognitive science has been designed to prepare students for careers by offering knowledge in the fields of artificial intelligence, data analysis, healthcare, product and software design, and human performance, among others.
With that being said, this isn’t the first step by IIT Kanpur to venture into cognitive science. As a matter of fact, the institute, in June 2017, has formally established an interdisciplinary program in cognitive science. However, the proposal of establishing this separate department was approved by the board of governors.
Explaining that, Dr K Radhakrishnan, the chairman, Board of Governors stated to the media that considering India has been known for its classical knowledge about mind and consciousness, it is indeed surprising that the country is lagging in studying the human mind. Thus, this new department of cognitive science will provide learners with an opportunity to explore the machinist of the human brain and its functioning.
Further to this, Prof Bishakh Bhattacharya, the current head of the IDP in cognitive science also stated that the institute has already been running PhD and MS programmes in cognitive science. And this department will provide real-world contributions that will be valuable for developing AI, multimodal communications and cognitive robots.
Professor Bhattacharya also believes that such a launch can also help in understanding the impact of deadly viruses like COVID. Cognitive science can help researchers understand the virus and identify its effects, such as signals in speech and vocal system coordination among people.