Within the premises of the National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST) lies the secretariat of the National Center of Artificial Intelligence (NCAI) which was inaugurated at the main campus on the 16th of March, 2018. NCAI is the latest technological initiative of the Government of Pakistan under the government’s Vision 2025. The center is designed to become the leading hub of innovation, scientific research, knowledge transfer to the local economy, and training in the area of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its closely affiliated fields. The central aim is to facilitate the researchers in the field of AI; help them establish and grow the AI industry following international trends and seek solutions to indigenous problems through AI.
The center is developed on a consortium model consisting of 6 prominent public sector universities NUST Islamabad, COMSATS Islamabad, UET Peshawar, Punjab University Lahore, NED University Karachi, UET Lahore with 9 specialized labs spread across the five major cities of Pakistan and Headquartered in NUST H-12 Islamabad (figure 1: NCAI labs and RF projects).
1. Collaboration with NAVTTC: Kamyab Jawan Program
Contemporarily, NCAI in collaboration with National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) conducted around 900 interviews of various trades on the 22nd of February 2022 (figure 2,3). It is conducting free courses for short-listed students in the high-tech trades such as Artificial Intelligence (Robotics), Cyber Security, Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud Computing and Digital Marketing, and SEO. Prime Minister’s Kamyab Jawan Program initiative aims to be a capacity-building platform for the youth of the country in various domains. The mission is to invest in the development of youth with the aim to make them skilled, confident, resourceful & self-reliant ultimately enabling them to contribute positively to the progress & economic stability of Pakistan.
1. Turkish Delegation Visit
A Turkish delegation comprising Defence and Naval Attaches of the Republic of Turkey to Pakistan, Lt. Gen from Turkish Land Forces along with other top-ranking officers visited the National Centre of Artificial Intelligence (NCAI). They were given demonstrations of some pioneering projects at the Intelligent Robotics Lab (IRL) and Deep Learning Lab (DLL), including Judicial Support System, Audio/Video Analytics (Media Analytics), and AI-enabled System for Crop Disease Monitoring, and were highly appreciative of the initiatives and work being done by NCAI.
Figure 5: Dr Yasar Ayaz (CPD/Chairman, NCAI) with Turkish Delegates
2. Center of Excellence
HEC is collaborating with the World Bank (WB) for the Center of Excellence (CoE) where the National Centre of Artificial Intelligence (NCAI) and its collaborating labs submitted projects encompassing various sectors such as health, security, and environment on the 27th of January, 2022. CoE Grants are among the Higher Education Commission’s key efforts in prompting Research and Development for Pakistan’s economic development. The endeavor supported by the World Bank prioritizes social and environmental challenges in Pakistan’s economy to bring about social and environmental change. The selection of the proposals is on the basis of efficacy and potential in the aforementioned areas.
3. SIAB Member Visit
Dr. Mazhar Hussain (Vice President of AI, IoT and Data Analytics, Siemens USA), also a member of the NCAI oversight body Scientific and Industrial Advisory Board (SIAB) visited NCAI on the 22nd of December, 2021. Bringing his 15 years of result-oriented leadership, Dr. Mazhar engaged in an insightful discussion with the senior management, highlighting the current situation and prospects of collaboration in Big Data Analytics along with products and services in the AI market. Among his main points was to have increased collaboration between the two countries’ human resources in the discussed fields.
4. Pakistan Navy Engineering College Team Visit
A delegation from Pakistan Navy Engineering College (PNEC) Karachi visited NCAI on the 27th of December 2021. The delegation had a meeting with the senior management followed by a visit of the NCAI Secretariat along with the two labs on-premises, Intelligent Robotics Lab and Deep Learning Lab. It was an initiative to explore the possibilities of collaboration in the field of Artificial Intelligence & Robotics. The delegation was led by Captain Dr. Nadeem Kureshi (Dean MIS & Maritime Sciences) and Captain Ali Shahid (Dean Electronics & Power Engineering).
5. 2nd International Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ICAI) and AI Expo (Lab2Market Event)
The International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, (ICAI) 2022 is an initiative carried out on the 30th and 31st March 2022. The aim is to bring together remarkable speakers in the field of AI, both national and international, to present their research papers, ideas, and insights on cutting-edge developments. Along with this, the AI Expo (Lab2Market) will be executed, which aims to cover innovation, commercialization, and scientific research in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics, Data Sciences, and Industry 4.0. The focus would be to highlight and contribute to the current and emerging needs of Pakistan in these domains and the broader science and technology frontier.
Figure 8: International Conference on Artificial Intelligence ( ICAI) and AI Expo (Lab2Market) 2022