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Google launches AI Research Lab in Bengaluru; To Launch WiFi in Gujarat Villages

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The Google AI lab in Princeton. (Princeton University, Office of Communications, Denise Applewhite)

Google at its 5th edition of ‘Google For India’ event announced the opening of ‘Google Research India’, an artificial intelligence (AI) research lab in Bengaluru, to “tackle big problems”, the technology giant announced on Thursday during its fifth edition of Google for India event.

The newly launched lab will be led by Manish Gupta, a SEM (Society for Experimental Mechanics) fellow, and Professor Milind Tambe, who is Director of Harvard Centre for Computation & Society, will serve as director of AI for social good.

According to Google, Professor Tambe will build a research programme around applying AI to tackle big problems in areas like healthcare, agriculture, or education.

The team at Google Research India lab will focus on two pillars — 1) advancing fundamental computer science and AI research by building a strong team and partnering with the research community across the country; 2) 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.

Fast Public WiFi in Gujarat Villages

Google in its flagship event also announced the partnership with BSNL to bring “fast, reliable and secure public WiFi to villages in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Bihar” and with National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) for their Skill India programme to make entry-level jobs easily discoverable online.

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Google has also launched an initiative to help millions of Indians who use 2G phones get the information they need, without requiring data or an internet connection. The Vodafone-Idea Phone Line — supported by the Google Assistant — enables Vodafone-Idea users to call a single number free of charge (000 800 9191000), at any time, and ask for everything — from sports scores, traffic conditions and weather forecasts or get help with homework. Starting 19th September, Google has expanded the service to all English- and Hindi-speaking Vodafone-Idea customers across India.

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was a guest at the event, said, “Digital India was designed to ensure digital inclusion… I don’t have a slightest doubt that Google has a crucial role in helping India achieve its goal of a trillion dollar digital economy.”

Talking about Bolo, a speech-based app that helps children learn to read, that Google launched in March 2019, Sapna Chadha, director of marketing, Southeast Asia & India, said, “Bolo has already helped 800,000 young Indians read stories more than three million times, and speak half a billion words.”

Bolo was already available in Hindi and English and now it has been expanded to five new Indian languages — Bangla, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Google has also partnered with publishers like Chota Bheem and Katha Kids to provide more Indic-languages content.

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