Bengaluru, NFAPost: Google has announced setting up Google Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Lab at an opportune time as the city’s IT talent pool and AI startups are making global impacts. Indian startup community, academia and tech industry starwalts welcome the tech giant’s decision.

During the Fifth edition of Google For India event in New Delhi the company announced the decision. The Google AI Research Lab at Bengaluru will be headed by Manish Gupta, a Society For Experimental Mechanics Fellow. Besides being a renowned computer scientist and ACM Fellow, Manish Gupta is an expert in deep learning across video analysis and education, compilers and computer systems.

Commenting on his appointment, Manish Gupta said he is excited about the opportunity to lead and help shape a new research lab in India.

“Look forward to working on problems that matter and making a difference to Google, India and the world at large,” said Manish Gupta.

Manish Gupta and Startup VideoKen

Manish Gupta is also the founder of startup VideoKen. The other cofounders of VideoKen include Vishnu Raned and Ashish Vikram. The company helps in unleashing the full potential of videos, radically changing the way we discover, interact and consume videos.

According to a startup analyst, even though videos are a popular form of content, they are very opaque by nature and is facing low consumption / engagement levels. “It is primarily because of inadequate presence of powerful video discovery tools, poor SEO on videos and many other challenges. VideoKen with the help of powerful AI technology delivers the most out of any video and help them make discoverable, highly rich and extremely consumable, ” said the analyst.

Milind Timbe

Harvard Centre For Computation and Society Professor Milind Timbe will be the Director of the Google AI Research Lab. Google India states that Professor Tambe will build a research programme around applying AI to tackle big problems in areas like healthcare, agriculture, or education.

Google Next Billion Users Initiative

The team from Google AI Research Lab Bengaluru will focus on two pillars: First, advancing fundamental computer science and AI research by building a strong team and partnering with the research community across the country. Second, applying this research to tackle big problems in fields like healthcare, agriculture, and education while also using it to make apps and services used by billions of people more helpful.

Google Next Billion Users Initiative and Payments Vice President Ceasar Sengupta said the Google AI Research Lab at Bengaluru will focus on advancing fundamental computer science and AI research.

“The Google AI Research Lab will apply this research to tackle big problems in fields like healthcare, agriculture and education while using it to make apps and services used by billions of people more helpful,” said Ceasar Sengupta.

Jay Yagnik

Commenting on the development, Google AI Vice President and Google Fellow Jay Yagnik said starting Google Research India is an important step for Google and for him personally.

” As someone who grew up in India, studied at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, and learned so much from the community there, I’m grateful that we now have the opportunity to help advance research and play a part in building the AI community in India,” said Jay Yagnik.

The lab in Bangalore will be part of and support Google’s global network of researchers participating in conferences, publishing research in scientific papers, and collaborating closely with one another. The AI Research Lab at Bengaluru will also explore the potential for partnering with India’s scientific research community and academic institutions to help train top talent and support collaborative programs, tools and resources.

Engineering Workforce

Jay Yagnik said artificial intelligence is opening up the next phase of technological advances.

“And with its world-class engineering talent, strong computer science programs and entrepreneurial drive, India has the potential to lead the way in using AI to tackle big challenges. In fact, there are already many examples of this happening in India today: from detecing diabetic eye to enhancing flood forecasting and teaching kids,” he said.

Talking to NFAPost, TiE Bangalore President Ravi Gururaj said he welcomes the news that Google is launching a new AI Research Centre here in Bangalore.

“I expect very talented scientists with deep expertise will be recruited for this facility to help tackle huge opportunities India has to offer and also to find solutions for the biggest challenges across our region. Hope Google works closely with all stakeholders – our startups, industry, academia and government to make thislab their most successful and highest impact worldwide “said Ravi Gururaj.

Tackle Social Issues

Trigyn Technologies Ltd President Sundar Varadaraj Perangur said it is happy to see that Google is opening it’s AI Research Labs in India to tackle socially relevant problems of the masses.

“Healthcare and Scare Resources Management could be key areas of focus for making a true impact on the billions of lives,” saidSundar Varadaraj Perangur.

Sharing his happiness, former Nasscom President R Chandrashekhar said it is an excellent development.

“This is a huge and welcome step. India needs AI-driven customised solutions related to local, especially social sector, needs. The Google AI Research Lab will facilitate this. More importantly, Google AI Research Lab will help make India a hub for global AI innovation, ” said R Chandrashekhar.

AI To Redefine Business

Commenting on the development, AI startup Clootrack cofounder Shameel Abdulla said AI is redefining the way via business will go forward.

“We are at a critical moment in our civilisational journey and AI is driving that. Bengaluru is known for its world-class engineering talent. Our computer science programmers can drive AI revolution unfolding across the globe. The Google decision to set up the AI Research Lab is a move in the right direction, said Shameel Abdullah.

Intelligent Application Of AI : Gartner

As per Gartner’s 2019 CIO Agenda survey, organizations that have deployed artificial intelligence (AI) grew from 4% to 14% between 2018 and 2019.

“Meanwhile, new technologies continue to emerge such as augmented intelligence, edge AI, data labeling and explainable AI. Artificial intelligence is reaching organizations in many different ways compared with a few years ago, when there was no alternative to building your own solutions with machine learning (ML). AutoML and intelligent applications have the greatest momentum, while other approaches are also popular — namely, AI platform as a service or AI cloud services, ” states Gartner survey.

Build Starup Ecosystem

Varadarajan Krishna (Varad), Managing Director of Indian subsidiary of Norway based Innovation Management company Induct AS, said it is a great news that Google has decided to set up their AI Research Lab in Bangalore as it will contribute in creating a strong startup ecosystem here for AI.

“This will connect us to other cities that have strong and thriving ecosystem for AI like Montreal for example. The entrepreneurs in this city can benefit as they can learn to build real use cases with help from this research centre,” said Varadarajan Krishna.

Vijay Girish, a former student of IISc and specialises in AI, said Google AI Research Lab at Bengaluru will help in building AI ecosystem.

“AI is emerging as fundamental branch of computer science having its impact on almost all businesses and human life. India should be a powerhouse in its research and development going forward,” said Vijay Girish.

AI Talent Availability

Manish Gupta already made offers for AI specialist to join his team but the reality is that there is a massively asymmetric situation of talent availability.

India, especially Bengaluru, with its engineering colleges, IT services companies, startups and Global Inhouse Centre (GICs) have created massive IT talent pool. India accounts for over 45% of the GICs in the world. According to a 2017 Nasscom and Bain and Co. study, there were about 1,100 GICs in India. These centres provide more than 800,000 employment and generate approximately $23 billion in revenue.

In a recent interaction, former Infosys CEO and Startup Vianai founder Vishal Sikka said there is an inherent limitation that a very small number of people understands AI techniques.

“There are roughly 35 million or so programmers in the world, but the number of machine-learning engineers is in the few hundreds of thousands. Tencent did a study which showed that there are about 300,000 AI engineers in the world. These are people who can build machine-learning applications. The number of people who can explain to you how particular algorithms work is only about 20,000,” said Vishal Sikka.

Bengaluru IT and startup ecosystem can withstand this trend and become a powerhouse for AI talent pool.


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