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Odias in ML Global Conference 2020 discussed how to leverage AI/ML for overall socio-economic development of Odisha

Odisha can chart out a data-driven strategy to propel the next phase of its growth leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning, agreed participants in a global virtual conference, Odias in ML, organized by a group of Odias, also called Odias in ML, with a shared interest in AI and M recently. The first-of-its-kind conference saw participation of a multitude of stakeholders including researchers, IT professionals, data scientists, academicians, linguists, administrators, entrepreneurs, business executives, media persons, and community leaders.  

The conference comprised four sessions, themed AI for Odisha, AI for Odia language, Research & Career Opportunities in AI; and Entrepreneurship and Business Opportunities in AI. Each session was a combination of keynotes, presentations and panel discussions. 

Speaking in the session, research and career opportunities in AI/ML for Odisha, Prof Prasant Mohapatra, Vice Chancellor of Research, University of California Davis, identified two specific areas – agriculture and healthcare – where leveraging data and application of AI/ML could help Odisha significantly.  Prof Panchanan Mohanty, noted linguist and President of Linguistic Society of India, outlined areas which natural language processing (NLP) technologies could address. The community agreed to work towards forming teams for developing fundamental lexicographic tools needed for NLP in Odisha. Dr Pragyasmita Nayak, Chief Data Scientist at Hitachi, outlined how Odisha could leverage data for its development and administration. Manoj Mishra, Secretary, Electronics & IT outlined areas (including in COVID management) where Odisha is currently using analytics, and expressed his desire to work closely with Odia techies and data scientists across the world for betterment of Odisha. Prof Chitta Baral, Professor of Computer Science at University of Arizona, talked about his research in the area of natural language processing. 

Various speakers and panellists also suggested that Odias across the world should consistently collaborate with each other in this area to create opportunities for Odisha and Odias. Many speakers stressed the need to create a conducive environment for entrepreneurship in Odisha. Many also agreed on the need to impart AI/ML and data science education across universities and institutes in Odisha. 

“The response to the conference was beyond all our expectations. We immensely thank the Odia community for their overwhelming support and encouragement. We will continuously work to strengthen the Odias in ML community and will work closely with government, educational institutions and various external stakeholders like technology companies and institutions to continuously further the cause,” said Anjan Kumar Panda, Convenor, Odias in ML.  

The inaugural session on AI for Odisha saw participation of Manoj Mishra, Secretary Electronics & IT; Dr Pragyasmita Nayak, Chief Data Scientist, Hitachi; Kirti Sundar Sahoo, researcher at University of Waterloo, Canada; and Kuku Das, President, Odisha Society of Americas. The session was moderated by technology editor Shyamanuja Das.

The session on AI for Odia language has participation from Prof Panchanan Mohanty, noted linguist; Tushar Pattnaik, Joint Director C-DAC; Vivekananda Pani, CTO, Reverie Language Technologies; Subharadashi Panda and Soumendra Sahoo, architects of Odia-English translation bot MTE2O. The session also had a discussion featuring Prof Sanghamitra Mohanty, ex HoD computer science Utkal University & ex Vice-Chancellor of North Odisha University; Dr Shantpriya Parida,  post-doctoral researcher at Idiap Research Institute;  Soumendra Sahoo, architect and Kumarika Mohanty, leader of community at MTE2O, an English-Odia language translation bot, with Subhashis Panigrahi, independent researcher moderating the discussion. The entire session was moderated by Anjan Panda, the convenor of the Odias in ML conference. 

The session on Research & Career Opportunities in AI/ML had speakers like Prof  Prasant Mohapatra of University of California Berkley; Prof Chitta Baral of School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering at Arizona State University; Sudeept Maharana, VP Engineering Priceline & Country Head, Priceline India; and Pradeepta Mishra, Head of AI – Leni at LTI. Abhijeet, Parida, Data Scientist at;  Jyotirmay Senapati, Assistant Research Scientist, Artificial Intelligence in Medical Imaging; Subhadarshi Panda, PhD scholar in Computer Science at the Graduate Center City University of New York and Satwik Panigrahi, student at Dougherty Valley High School San Ramon, CA, USA shared their research experience. The session was moderated by Damodar Sahu, Head of Global Strategic Alliances, New Age & SaaS Applications, and Wipro. 

The final session on Entrepreneurship & Business Opportunities in AI included talks by Sitikantha Panigrahi, Managing Director, Software Research at Mizuho Americas; Chidananda Khatua, noted technologist and CEO of Equbot; Ayaashkanta Mohanty, Managing Director, Tatwa technologies; Dhirendra Kar, President, Business Intelligence Professionals and Dr Sanjay Raut, CEO of Innovation Solution Lab. Sitikantha Panigrahi also moderated the session.  

The conference ended on a high note with participants across the world pledging to work together in various areas of AI/ML application that could benefit Odisha, Odia language and Odia people. 

Odias in ML has also received a lot of suggestions from stakeholders post the conference. The group is compiling those suggestions to create a definite plan of action, which will be released soon.

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