Tag Archives: Google Research India

Progress from a year of AI for Social Good at Google Research India

Almost a year and a half ago, we announced Google Research India, an AI Lab in Bangalore. Along with advancing fundamental research in AI, we sought  to support nonprofits and universities to solve big challenges in the field of Public Health, Conservation, Agriculture and Education using AI. 

In 2020, we announced AI for Social Good would be supporting six projects from NGOs and Academic collaborations to utilize the application of AI to assist underserved communities that have not traditionally benefited from the prowess of AI. Google provided scientific and technical contributions for each project, as well as  funding from Google Research and Google.org. 

Today, we are pleased to provide an update on some of these projects, and highlight successes and challenges in AI for Social Good. 

Maternal Healthcare

India accounts for 11 percent of global maternal mortality, and a woman in India dies in childbirth every fifteen minutes. However, almost 90 percent of maternal deaths are avoidable if women receive timely intervention. Access to timely, accurate health information is a significant challenge among women in rural areas and urban slums. ARMMAN runs mMitra, a free mobile voice call service that sends timely and targeted preventive care information to expectant and new mothers. Adherence to such public health programs is a big challenge but timely intervention to retain people is beneficial to improve maternal health outcomes. Researchers from Google Research and IIT Madras worked with ARMMAN to design an AI technology that could provide an indication of women who were at risk of dropping out from the health information program. The early targeted identification helps ARMMAN to personalise interventions and retain these people, improving maternal health outcomes. Test results demonstrated that use of AI technology was able to bring down the risk of drop-offs by up to 32% for women at high risk of dropping out. The team is currently working towards scaling this to 300,000+ women in mMitra and we are excited to continue to support ARMMAN as the project team increases the reach of this technology to 1M+ mothers and children in 2021. To support ARMMAN’s growing efforts, Google.org is committing another USD $530,000 to ARMMAN to scale the use of AI for social good to reach underserved women and children. 

The importance of targeted interventions to improve health outcomes cannot be overstated. AI can help play a critical role in its advancement, however the lack of availability of high-quality public health data is a significant challenge. Frequently, data collection is enabled through the labour and expertise of frontline health workers and yet Khushibaby discovered various challenges in the field that inhibited the collection of the high-quality data required. Researchers from Singapore Management University and Google Research collaborated with Khushibaby to develop AI algorithms with over 90 percent accuracy that provided timely predictions about the drop in health workers’ data quality. These timely predictions help Khushibaby provide assistance to the health worker to enable them to record high-quality data. The project team is currently planning to deploy and safely test this technology with 250+ healthcare workers who serve over 15,000 people. 

Wildlife Conservation

India is home to some of the most biodiverse regions, where human settlements and wildlife co-exist in forests. However, interactions between local communities and wildlife can result in conflicts, leading to loss of crops, cattle, and even human life. Wildlife Conservation Trust needed help to proactively predict human-wildlife conflict to enable them to take timely steps to protect local communities, wildlife, and the forest. With technical and scientific contributions from Google Research and Singapore Management University, Wildlife Conservation Trust designed AI models that help predict human-wildlife conflict in Bramhapuri Forest Division in Tadoba, Maharashtra. These novel AI techniques provide over 80 percent accuracy in predicting human-wildlife conflict in the Bramhapuri Forest Division in the test results. This work is currently being field-tested in Chandrapur district, Madhya Pradesh, to ensure safe deployment. 

Local Language Adoption

Six out of ten children globally do not achieve minimum proficiency levels in reading, despite attending school. Lack of access to reading content in one’s local language is a significant challenge in addressing this problem. Storyweaver, an open-licence driven organization, works towards bridging that gap by developing and curating story books in a multitude of local languages to help children learn new concepts, new ideas and open up their imagination.  Storyweaver needed help to enable access to creation tools in low-resource languages. Creation tools in low-resource languages suffer from very low accuracy, adding barriers to content creation. The team at AI4Bharat & IIT Madras, with support from Google, developed state-of-the-art Natural Language Understanding tools to develop open-language models for two low-resource languages (Konkani, Maithal), making story reading easier for 70,000+ children. 

We are humbled to see the progress in the development and deployment of AI technologies for social good in a short period of time. We are confident in our development and support of a collaborative model that involves experts from Academia and NGOs, as well as contributions from Google, to advance AI for social good. Continuing our scientific, technical, and financial support of organizations working in this space, we are excited to announce an expanded follow-up program to initiate collaborative AI for Social Good projects in Asia Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa. 

We recognize that AI is not a magic wand to solve all the world’s challenges, it is however a powerful tool to help experts and social-impact organisations to explore and address hard, unanswered questions. 

Posted by Milind Tambe, Director of AI for Social Good, Google Research India, and Manish Gupta, Director, Google Research India

Announcing Google India AI/ML Research Awardees 2020

We recently concluded our annual edition of the Google India AI/ML Research Awards, a program focussed on supporting exceptional AI research in India. We also want to identify and strengthen long-term collaborative relationships with faculty working on problems that will impact how future generations use technology. 

This year we received over a hundred proposals across various fields of AI.  We also received several proposals working to advance the use of AI for Social Good. All proposals went through an extensive review process involving expert reviewers across Google who assessed the proposals on merit, innovation, connection to Google’s research efforts and alignment with our overall research philosophy and AI Principles

As a result, we are happy to announce our support for five faculty members who are working to  advance foundational and applied research to advance the state-of-the-art in AI across a wide range of research areas including Algorithms & Theory, Computer Vision, Natural Language Understanding and Privacy & Security. 

  • Arpita Patra, Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Science is working on moulding the use of Secure Multiparty Computation (MPC) techniques to advance Machine Learning that preserves the privacy of the user, which can be tuned to real-world problems in the social good space, such as medical diagnosis systems, disparity against women, and fake news detection. 

  • Anirban Dasgupta, Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar is working on developing randomized approximation algorithms for numerical tensor algebra that strike a balance by being practically useful as well as by being equipped with theoretical guarantees. He also aims to develop such algorithms for applications such as streaming and large-scale social networks. 

  • Pawan Goyal, Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur is developing ways to build conceptual understanding of natural language in AI Dialogue Systems. His work aims at developing dialog systems that can learn underlying concepts and perform commonsense reasoning to help AI systems in conversations.

  • Soma Biswas, Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Science is working on making AI systems more robust by fundamentally advancing how deep learning algorithms recognize and directly provide information on what groups of data the system does not know much about . This work has widespread applications in image classification, detection, segmentation, etc.

  • Vasudeva Verma, Professor at International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad is advancing his work on ‘Project ANGEL’, an initiative aimed at utilizing machine learning techniques for enhancing the well-being of teenagers, especially teenage girls. He intends to develop a cohesive technology stack (including prior work on Building on hate speech detection, sexism classification), through multi-disciplinary research for helping teenagers in an empathetic, proactive manner.

In the past we have supported various faculty members, including Sunita Sarawagi, working on continuously trainable learning systems with applications in grammar error correction and  translation. Our past awardee, Rijurekha Sen worked on developing low-cost, scalable measurement frameworks for real time monitoring of road traffic congestion and particulate matter in the air. 

We remain committed to investing in  the development of the Research ecosystem in India through various research grant-based and education programs, and continue to pursue cutting-edge research at Google Research India: an AI lab in Bangalore. More information about our program can be found here.

Posted by Ashwani Sharma, Head of Research Operations and University Relations, Google Research India,  and Divy Thakkar, Research and Education Program Manager