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9 Mar, 2024 07:48

India gets its first AI ‘school teacher’ (VIDEO)

New Delhi has approved $1.2 billion of investment in the technology over the next five years
india ai

A school in southern India has introduced ‘IRIS’, the country’s first artificial intelligence (AI) powered humanoid robot 'teacher' capable of complex tasks.

Maker Labs, the Indian robotics firm behind IRIS, describes the robot as a “versatile teaching tool with interactive capabilities.” It comes fitted with an Intel processor and a co-processor for maneuvering tasks, and users can control and interact with the robot using an Android app interface, according to the manufacturer.

IRIS is equipped with an AI-based voice assistant to provide “explanations” and deliver “educational content”, the developer stated. It can move around on a wheeled platform and “manipulate objects, perform demonstrations, and engage in hands-on learning activities.”

Earlier this week, one IRIS robot was introduced at the KTCT Higher Secondary School in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala state, which has the highest literacy rate (94%) among all Indian states. Maker Labs also uploaded videos of the robot, dressed in a traditional Indian ‘sari’, interacting with students in a classroom.

The Indian government is seeking to harness the power of AI in sectors including healthcare, agriculture, and education. On Thursday, the cabinet approved the ‘India AI Mission’ with an outlay of $1.2 billion for the next five years. Through the initiative, New Delhi will provide subsidies for homegrown companies working on AI tech.

Meanwhile, the government is also developing an AI language model ‘Bhashini’ to break down barriers between the hundreds of languages that are used in India. New Delhi has also taken steps to regulate AI-based platforms to avoid possible negative impacts, including disinformation.

Last week, the Narendra Modi-led government announced that Big Tech companies would now need the Indian government’s permission to release AI models that have not been thoroughly tested or are not reliable. The development followed a controversy involving Google’s Gemini AI chatbot, and an answer it gave relating to Modi.

The government says it is taking stringent measures against “disinformation” including AI ‘deepfakes’ and other tech that it believes can be used to skew public perception.

India is set to release a new regulatory framework for AI later this year. Earlier, New Delhi warned platforms they could lose ‘safe harbor immunity’ and be liable to criminal proceedings if they fail to act swiftly against “misinformation.” 

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