The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Artificial Intelligence for Social Good - Our Approach at the Wadhwani Institute for AI (Social Science Matters: Technological Shifts and Social Change)

Thursday, September 13, 2018 - 12:00pm
Old Chapel

The last few years have seen the rapid growth of Artificial Intelligence and its pervasive presence in almost every aspect of our lives – e.g., shopping, seeking information, traveling, and social networking. Yet the benefit of AI is largely limited to those in the developed world and the economically advanced in the developing world. The impact of AI on the lives of those in poorer segments has been minimal. Yet it is this segment of society that often suffers from the lack of adequate human expertise to address critical problems in their day to day lives in areas such as health, education, agriculture, and financial inclusion. Also, AI is yet to applied in a serious manner to address the critical infrastructural needs in the developing world.

Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence was created with the purpose of bringing the power of AI and Data Science to address societal challenges, especially in the underserved communities in India and across other parts of the world. We are beneficiaries of the generosity of Indian born American Entrepreneurs and Philanthropists Dr. Romesh Wadhwani and his brother Mr. Sunil Wadhwani. Wadhwani AI was launched on Feb 18, 2018 by the Honourable Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi.

In this talk, I will explain the mission, goals and the approach we are undertaking at Wadhwai AI towards using AI to address societal challenges in underserved communities. Our approach combines innovation in chosen problem domains with the aim of seeing real and tangible impact on the society and with the long term goal of helping governments adopt and scale these solutions to meet state and national needs. We are doing in close partnership with social sector organizations and governments who have proven expertise in identifying societal needs, pilot testing and deploying the solutions and eventually scaling them. I will describe our initial choice of problem areas, how we propose to address them, and our model for staffing, innovation, and collaboration.

About the Speaker 

P. Anandan is the CEO of Wadhwani Institute of Artificial Intelligence. Previous to this Anandan was VP for Research at the Adobe Research Lab India (2016-2017) and before that a Distinguished Scientist and Managing Director at Microsoft Research (1997-2014). Anandan was the founding director of Microsoft Research India which he ran from 2005-2014. Prior to this, Anandan was researcher at Sarnoff corporation (1991-1997) and an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Yale University (1987-1991). His primary research area is Computer vision where he is well known for his fundamental and lasting contributions to the problem of visual motion analysis.

Anandan received his PhD in Computer Science from University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1987, a Masters in Computer Science from University of Nebraska, Lincoln in 1979 and his BTech in Electrical Engineering from IIT Madras, India in 1977. He is a distinguished alumnus of IIT Madras, and UMass, Amherst and is on the Nebraska Hall of Computing.

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