Published: 08th November 2018
IITian's bot, Irene, can read through 50 pages in 5 seconds and answer in 20 languages
Meet Kannan Chandrasekaran, the data scientist who built a self-learning bot that won him the first prize at the Samsung Innovation Awards 2018 held at IIT-Hyderabad
Artificial Intelligence is the future. The technology shown in a science-fiction movie is probably not very far from reach with the rapid developments in AI — that is what comes to mind after you come across Irene, the self-learning bot designed by Kannan Chandrasekaran, the 28-year-old Data Science postgraduate at the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad. Irene fetched him the top honours at the Samsung Innovation Awards 2018 recently.
Irene, named after the rescue mission from the movie Black Hawk Down, can currently understand 20 languages. It functions like an assistant, where large chunks of information can be fed in a short amount of time — a fifty-page document can be read by the bot in less than 5 seconds. A user can then ask questions about the information fed and get answers instantly, making the process of finding information faster and more effective.
Although the data being fed to Irene has to be in English or Hindi, it is capable of translating the data according to the user's language preference. "The multilingual feature gives the bot a larger outreach," says Chandrasekaran, a native of Pudukkottai in Tamil Nadu. "The bot is also trained to understand language diversification. The same question asked in a different fashion or the same question asked in a different language can be understood by the bot."
Irene: The logo depicting the self-learning bot (Pic: Kannan Chandrasekaran)
Chandrasekaran, who was thrilled that his invention won him the top honours, sees artificial intelligence as a tool that improves human life drastically. "Time is precious", says Chandrasekaran, "It isn't possible for human beings to read hundred million pages of information overnight, whereas a bot can do that and answer any question on it, making us more productive."
When asked about the adverse impacts of dependence on artificial intelligence, Chandrasekaran dispels the doubt, "The bot will never take control on its own. It has a limitation and it will not go beyond that."
Chandrasekaran believes that Irene has the potential to recommend solutions to problems in the future. It can be applied to any field, he explains, wherever there is a need for such a user interface. The bot can self-adapt and according to Chandrasekaran, it has the potential to replace all the applications in the smartphone and all queries can be dealt with in a conversational manner.