Romesh (Left) and Sunil Wadhwani at the launch of Wadhwani AI Institute with Amitabh Kant (Centre) San Francisco: As debate swirls on whether artificial intelligence will be a boon or a curse for humanity, two Indian-American entrepreneur brothers are out to ensure the emerging technologies don’t just benefit the richest in society. Romesh and Sunil Wadhwani this week launched what is billed as the world’s first nonprofit institute dedicated to putting AI to work improving lives of poor farmers, rural health care workers or teachers in communities with scant resources.

“AI will go where AI will go; it is difficult to predict where,” Sunil Wadhwani said of the conflicting views on the emergence of computers more brilliant than their human creators. “Our focus is how many tens of millions of lives can we improve in the next five or 10 years.

Where AI goes in 100 years, it will go.” The entrepreneur brothers, who have a series of lucrative startups to their name, have committed $30 million over 10 years to the Wadhwani AI institute, established in Mumbai with the Indian government as a partner.

Areas targeted at the outset will include health care, education, agriculture and urban infrastructure. The project’s founders hope AI could help nurses in rural areas with diagnoses, advise how to optimize crops, translate text books into various languages as needed or even spot signs students might be on paths to dropping out.

“AI is a game-changing technology,” said Sunil Wadhwani, who is based in Pittsburgh as a trustee for Carnegie Mellon University. “A lot of developing countries are getting left behind; US and China are leapfrogging ahead.” Read more from…

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