Govt told to invest in social and policy research

Kathmandu, February 17

The government has received suggestion to invest on social and policy research and collaborate with the private sector and innovative groups to reap benefits from the fourth industrial revolution.

Speakers at a discussion on ‘Artificial Intelligence for Media and Business’ organised by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in the capital today, highlighted the benefits of AI in various sectors and prodded the ministry and bodies concerned to measure the readiness for AI and make proper gap analyses.

At the discussion organised as a pre-event to the Nepal Artificial Intelligence Conference proposed for June, Dean of Open University Indra Karki said students were complaining of the dearth of data in Nepal. She urged the ministry to heed to this need.

“AI experts must be mobilised properly,” he added, informing that the Open University had launched MPhil in ICT.

Environmental scientist Uttam Babu Shrestha questioned why Digital Nepal Framework missed IT in environment and climate change sector. Research is also an area of activities that AI should not miss, he stressed.

On the occasion, former minister of technology and ruling party Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leader Ganesh Shah informed that the government was organising Nepal AI Conference to create digital awareness among the public and frame a policy on AI. “AI is now a young generation agenda. It is the most interesting and important issue of the fourth industrial revolution,” he said, adding that the government was seeking active cooperation of the private sector in the conference and implementation of Digital Nepal Framework.

Under-secretary at the Ministry of Information, Technology and Communications Ram Govinda Aryal made a presentation on Digital Nepal Framework, which the government unveiled with the vision of ‘digital Nepal for good governance, development and prosperity’.

“The framework has adopted public-private partnership approach to unlock the potential of digital technologies for economic prosperity,” he said, pointing out the need of policy reforms in line with the framework.

Eighty digital initiatives are included under eight clusters ranging from education to health, energy and urban infrastructure in the framework.

Similarly, scientist Bisesh Khanal made a presentation on AI, its potential and challenges in Nepal. “Nepal failed to reap benefits of three industrial revolutions. So, we must not miss the ongoing fourth industrial revolution where AI is at the centre,” he said, adding that developed countries were framing and revising AI policy, but developing countries too could not stay away from global development of AI.

According to him, Nepal is facing many challenges in the development of AI mainly due to lack of realisation and internalisation of the true nature and potential of AI, lack of foundation of research and entrepreneurship, shortage of human resources and knowledge, and also because of philosophical and ethic issues.

He hoped that the upcoming Nepal AI conference would be a proper platform to create awareness of the importance of AI for developing countries such as Nepal.

Khanal argued that AI was taken as a tool to democratise innovation. Targeted advertisement on Facebook, imaging and area inspection of foetus in womb with ultrasound, chatbots, measurement of pesticide level in vegetable, risk prediction of crop are some examples of AI use, he informed.

Machine learning and deep learning are also some parts of AI, the scientist shared, cautioning, “Uncertainty is however an intrinsic feature of AI.”