Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of Planning & Development has launched an initiative to fuel the growth of artificial intelligence research in the country under the Ministry’s Vision 2025. Named, the National Center for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI), the initiative aspires to become the leading hub of innovation in artificial intelligence by focusing on strengthening the model of scientific research, training in artificial intelligence and its derivative fields and transferring the knowledge to the local economy.
Last Friday, NCAI was inaugurated at the main campus of National University of Science & Technology (NUST), Islamabad in the presence of researchers, industry experts and students from various universities across Pakistan. NUST has been selected to the lead the consortium model and will be supervising the establishment of new labs and identifying researchers who are leading innovation in academia focused on artificial intelligence.
The project has been launched with a funding of PKR 1.1 billion which will be expanded in three years. However, the project aims to achieve sustainability during this time to develop and run future labs in partnering universities. Currently, six universities have been selected to work with NCAI through a competitive evaluation process developed by Planning Commission of Pakistan and Higher Education Commission to identify labs and principal investigators who can ensure competitive research in the field. Specified under cities, the selected universities and their labs include:
- Deep Learning Lab, NUST
- Intelligent Field Robotics Lab, NUST
- Medical Imaging and Diagnostics Lab, CIIT
- Intelligent Criminology Lab, UET
- Agent-Based Modeling Lab, Punjab University
- Smart City Lab, NED University
- Neurocomputation Lab, NED University
- Intelligent Information Processing Lab, UET
- Intelligent System Design Lab, UET
Speaking at the inauguration, Minister Ahsan Iqbal shared his vision for NCAI,
“The central aim is to facilitate the researchers in the field of artificial intelligence; help them establish and grow artificial intelligence industry following international trends and seek solutions to the indigenous problems through artificial intelligence.”