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NITI Aayog, Microsoft Partner Up to Predict School Dropouts Using Artificial Intelligence

The project is part of a vision document to provide a roadmap for identifying areas where assistive artificial intelligence can be used. The central think-tank has identified five sectors — education, agriculture, health, smart cities and skilling — to implement the idea.

Eram Agha, Rounak Kumar GunjanEramAgha

Updated:April 28, 2018, 10:46 AM IST
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NITI Aayog, Microsoft Partner Up to Predict School Dropouts Using Artificial Intelligence
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New Delhi: Government think-tank NITI Aayog and global tech giant Microsoft are set to join hands for a project wherein artificial intelligence will be used to identify students who are likely to drop out of schools.

The project is part of a vision document to provide a roadmap for identifying areas where assistive artificial intelligence can be used. The central think-tank has identified five sectors — education, agriculture, health, smart cities and skilling — to implement the idea.

“We are in talks with Microsoft to identify school dropouts as part of the national strategy on artificial intelligence. However, we don’t want to just leave it at predicting dropouts, we also want to follow it up and see what other things can be attached to it. The discussions are on,” said a senior official at NITI Aayog.

Microsoft officials had met NITI Aayog officials in 2017 and made a presentation on how they have implemented a pilot programme in Andhra Pradesh. “So presently, what we are doing is using only those tools that have received validation and have been used before,” said the NITI Aayog official.

The vision document will be out for internal discussion in May. “The document will only be out for public consumption once all stakeholders sign off,” said the official.

HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, while replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, had stated that the annual average dropout rate at primary level in the country was 4.13 percent in 2014-15. The dropout rate for boys at primary level during this period was 4.36 percent and 3.88 percent for girls.

According to the data provided by Javadekar, the dropout rate for secondary level was 17.06 percent.

“Many cases of children dropping out of schools are reported in Class 9 due to the no-detention policy,” said Javadekar.

Informed Farming

NITI Aayog has also partnered with IBM and ISRO to provide real-time advice to farmers.

“Our basic motive is to increase crop yield. We will do it through satellite and sensor images, real-time weather data, drone images if any, soil health data among others. This will be our second proof of concept,” said another official in the NITI Aayog.

The government is also working on using artificial intelligence in providing information on types of seeds and fertilizers to be used. There are plans to provide detailed long-term information to farmers on monsoon timings and patterns. The plan also encompasses market price information so that farmers don’t sell at a loss.

The PoC will be tested in 25 aspirational districts.

Detection of diseases

NITI Aayog, in close collaboration with various health experts, is working in early detection of cardiac arrests and diabetic retinopathy using artificial intelligence. The pilot for this will be rolled out within the next 15 days in 25 aspirational districts.

“We are seeing whether we can help in strengthening the wellness centres or public health centres. We are seeing if we can deploy some of the developed and tested tools in early detection and also in areas where professionals may not be there,” said the NITI Aayog official.

Under the same plan the team is also working on creating a “bio bank” which will have images of retinopathy-affected eyes and help computer systems differentiate healthy eyes from the diseased ones.

Using Blockchain
NITI Aayog is also planning to use blockchain to improve delivery mechanism of and plug pilferage in government schemes.

Talking to News18, the official listed three avenues where use of blockchain has been proposed — payment of fertilizer subsidy, pharmaceutical supply chain to identify fake drugs and land registry in Chandigarh.

The think-tank is also in talks with Google for promotion of artificial intelligence in the country.

“We have prepared a statement of intent with Google. We will be organising events like hackathon. With Google, we have drawn a very attractive action plan where NITI Aayog and Google work together to promote AI in the country,” added the official.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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