Wadhwani AI launches in Mumbai. India gets its first Artificial Intelligence Research Institute

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Indian-American tech entrepreneurs Romesh and Sunil Wadhwani establish Wadhwani AI, a nonprofit research institute with the mission of ‘AI for social good’. The institute has been set up in partnership with the government of Maharashtra, and has the support of Mumbai University.

Mumbai, February 20, 2018: Wadhwani AI, the world’s first artificial intelligence research institute established to develop AI solutions for social good, was formally inaugurated in Mumbai on Sunday. The Hon. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi dedicated the institute to the nation, showing India’s commitment to exploring AI solutions to widespread societal challenges. Founded by Indian-American tech entrepreneurs Dr. Romesh Wadhwani and Mr. Sunil Wadhwani, the institute will be led by AI pioneer and founding MD of Microsoft Research India, Dr. P. Anandan.

Hon. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said, “Wadhwani AI is a prime example of how the public sector and the private sector can come together with good intentions to build a world-class institute, aimed at benefiting the poor.”

“Can we take the global lead on creating Artificial Intelligence that is less about making humans redundant and more about enhancing human abilities and expanding human capacities?” he added.

The development of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies has accelerated in recent years, driven largely by easy access to tech platforms and tools, availability of large data sets, and compelling business opportunities in areas like finance, transportation and healthcare. Unfortunately, social problems — from poverty reduction to healthcare and public infrastructure — are not being adequately addressed.

Based in Mumbai, the Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence (Wadhwani AI), is an independent nonprofit research institute committed to using the power of AI to find solutions to the world’s deepest problems across sectors such as healthcare, education, agriculture, and infrastructure to accelerate social development in India and other emerging economies.

“Wadhwani AI is the first of its kind in the world — a nonprofit research institute dedicated exclusively to applying AI for social good, to help improve the lives of millions. We will apply AI in all key domains such as education, public health, agriculture, infrastructure and financial inclusion. Success means bringing innovative solutions that achieve large-scale positive social impact. We hope this will transform how AI research is conducted and applied to help societies throughout the world,” said Romesh Wadhwani, one of the founders.

Wadhwani AI is partnering with the government of Maharashtra for its mission to create AI solutions for social impact. The Maharashtra government will help the institute identify problems, and test and scale the solutions. Through its partnership with Mumbai University and other institutions, Wadhwani AI will help create a talent ecosystem in AI and Data Science.

Hon. Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri Devendra Fadnavis said, “Artificial intelligence is a boon which can change the lives of the common man. AI has the potential to bring drastic changes to the lives of common people. I hope research by Wadhwani AI will improve the lives of people and would result in social welfare.”

“​The institute​ will be a torchbearer for use of AI technology for public good. Maharashtra plans to use this first-mover advantage in deploying AI for social good to pave the way for the Prime Minister’s vision of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas. We plan to prioritize agriculture, healthcare and education sector in charting our initial projects. With conceptualisation to actualisation in 4 months, such initiatives are prime examples of what governments can achieve under our Hon. CM’s guidance,” added Kaustubh Davse, Officer on Special Duty to Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

The Wadhwani brothers are committing $30 million to the institute over its first 10 years and will also be personally involved, providing their extensive experience in creating and scaling successful global businesses.

“AI has the power to make a difference in countless people’s lives if applied to accelerating social development,” said Sunil Wadhwani. “We need the best minds of our generation working together to solve society’s greatest challenges. We will be working with leading global institutions and researchers to address these challenges, and also build a deep talent pool of data scientists and AI researchers in India in the coming years to address our development needs.”

In addition to having its own research team, Wadhwani AI will be a hub for leading AI researchers around the world working on large-scale societal challenges.

“Nonprofits and governments work every day to improve agriculture, education, public health and infrastructure. There are many interesting challenges and use cases that can benefit from the use of AI and there is lots of data that can be leveraged. That is where we can come in and help them find the patterns that underlie these problems, as well as ways to change them,” said Wadhwani AI’s CEO Dr. P. Anandan. “For instance, a nonprofit may know that rural schools tend to have high dropout rates, but we can help them discover if this stems from poorly translated educational materials, difficulty traveling to school, or because families need additional income — and then create solutions based on that insight.”

“University of Mumbai is committed to the capacity building of students in particular and the masses in general. We plan to introduce a Master’s degree programme in Data Science to develop the human resources that would be required to take this venture of AI for social good ahead,” said Dr. Devanand Shinde, Vice-Chancellor, University of Mumbai.