Google CEO Sundar Pichai introduces AI model to cover 100+ Indian languages


Google CEO Sundar Pichai highlighted investments in AI at a ‘Google for India’ event to make India’s digital economy more inclusive, helpful, and safe by introducing a multimodal AI model that covers 100+ Indian languages, ML-powered bilingual search results pages (launching in India first), support for a new centre for responsible AI at IIT Madras.

Speaking at the eighth edition of the Google for India event, with Ashwini Vaishnaw, minister for Railways, Telecommunications and Electronics & Information Technology in attendance, Pichai said, “It is easy to build something that scales across the entire country and this is the opportunity that India has. There’s no better moment to do a startup, even though we are working through a macro-economic situation right now.”

He added, “It’s always special to come back to India, and this trip is significant as it’s my first visit back since the pandemic. As we come out of it, there’s a sense of optimism about the country’s future and the role technology can play to improve lives.”

The Google CEO said he is here to see progress being made from “our $10 billion, 10-year India Digitization Fund (IDF), and share new ways helping to advance India’s digital future.”

“That includes our efforts to build a single, unified AI model capable of handling over 100 Indian languages across speech and text. It is part of our global effort to bring the world’s 1,000 most-spoken languages online and to help people access knowledge and information in their preferred language. We’re also supporting a new, multidisciplinary center for responsible AI with IIT Madras,” said Pichai.

Notably, Project Relate is an app that can understand people with non-binary speech. It can listen, repeat, and understand, and the app is available for Hindi users in early 2023.

“Search result pages will be bilingual in India for those who want and the feature is already available in Hindi. This feature will be supported in languages Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, and Bengali in the coming days. Voice search can now understand people who speak Hinglish better. Using a new neural network model, which takes the person’s accent, context, etc into account,” he added.

Speaking about YouTube India which reportedly contributed ₹10,000 crore to India’s GDP by creating over 750,000 full-time jobs, Pichai said, “YouTube has a 2 billion user base and just health-related videos have over 30 billion views.”

“Aloud is a new AI, ML product, which can dub the original content at no additional cost. This is being rolled out for select health-based creators and partners. Viewers will be able to toggle these videos in a different audio track. As a part of YouTube learning, Courses will soon be available on YouTube in India, which will also enable new monetisation options for creators.”

The Google CEO further stated that Google Pay will show more security alerts and warnings now for suspicious transactions. Google Pay also gets transaction search via voice feature.

Desirable friction is a feature that will help Google Pay determine if the transaction is genuine or fake. It uses an ML algorithm and flashes a warning in the regional language.

Pichai also highlighted integration with DigiLocker for govt identity documents using AI to identify and recognise important documents on the Google Files app.

“It can recognise govt issued documents and neatly arrange them in a folder. Only the user can access these documents and all this data is stored locally on the device. All Android phones will have DigiLocker built into them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Vaishnaw said work on Telecom Bill, Digital Data Protection Bill and Digital India Bill is at an advanced stage. The government expects Digital Personal Data Protection, Telecom Bills to be passed in Monsoon session.

“Once we have our Data Protection Bill, the Telecom Bill, and the Digital India Bill in place, then it creates a robust framework in which we can use some. Of the data sets which are available, public datasets, and then use them and harness the power of technology to provide better solutions, and better services,” he said.

The IT minister also listed the main focus areas for the government for the Digital India mission.

“Over the last eight years, the vision of digital India has really taken us to a level where we have a very successful, absolutely scalable India stack. And that India stack helped us manage something as big as the Pandemic.”

“Using the COVID platform, which used all the horizontal constructs of the India stack, we were able to deliver vaccines to a billion plus people, actually 2.2 billion vaccine doses. Scheduling for that scale, with all the logistics challenges that we had right. And giving the certificate instantaneously was a massive work. And that was only possible because of technology.”

“The payment system that we have today, the UPI payment system, is phenomenally successful as we speak, it is almost like India’s 55 per cent of India’s GDP transactions are today happening on the UPI, the payment platform that we have. Right. So similar digital platforms we will keep on building for the health system, for logistics for many other sectors. That’s one part,” he said.

“The second part, we’ll be taking the startup ecosystem to tier two cities, and tier three cities. We see so much talent coming out of smaller cities and towns, so we would try to channel that. Third, we will be focusing on very so India has been ranked as the number one talent concentration, geography for AI. Right? So, very recently, in the Network Readiness Index, India was ranked number one on the talent concentration for AI. So we would like to channelize that through a very stable, a very good, very comprehensive legal and regulatory ecosystem,” added Vaishnaw.

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