Artificial Intelligence: The future of life
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AI has definitely become a popular and widely discussed topic. It refers to machines, robots, and software systems that can perform intelligent tasks like learning and reasoning. While some movies portray AI as human-like robots taking over the world, in reality, AI today focuses on solving specific problems and addressing real-world challenges. The term “AI” was actually coined by Stanford computer scientist John McCarthy back in 1956. So, while Hollywood may depict advanced AI, the current focus is on narrow applications that can have a positive impact in areas like autonomous driving, stock prediction, and virtual assistants.
The past decade has indeed witnessed remarkable growth in AI technologies, thanks to advancements in computing power, the abundance of training data from IoT devices, and the decreasing costs of cloud storage and computing. These factors have paved the way for AI to revolutionize various industries and lifestyles.

We now have intelligent assistants like Siri, self-driving cars are becoming more prevalent, robots are aiding farmers in crop protection, AI models can create art from text, and AI systems are assisting doctors in early disease detection. The global AI software industry is projected to reach $126 billion by 2025, making it a significant driver of economic growth and a disruptive force in the future.

Many countries have recognized the importance of AI and have developed dedicated frameworks and policies to promote education, research, and economic growth. Pakistan should definitely follow suit and invest in programs that foster enthusiasm for AI and modern technologies among the youth. This includes investing in education, research centres, and industry training programs. Pakistan has tremendous potential in AI, from addressing local challenges in agriculture, governance, and climate change to nurturing tech start-ups and exporting AI software.

It’s truly inspiring to see research labs, companies, and startups in Pakistan making significant contributions to the global tech ecosystem. The work being done by the professors at ITU’s Intelligent Machines Lab, such as the economic indicators predictor using satellite imagery, showcases the potential of AI in addressing real-world problems and informing policymaking. The establishment of the National Centre of Artificial Intelligence (NCAI) by the government further demonstrates Pakistan’s commitment to becoming a leading hub of AI innovation, research, and knowledge transfer. It’s exciting to see the growth and potential of the AI ecosystem in Pakistan!

It’s truly inspiring to see multiple labs at universities like ITU, NUST, LUMS, PUCIT, and FAST solving fundamental AI problems and collaborating with industry giants like Google and Facebook. Motive (formerly KeepTruckin) is indeed a remarkable success story from Pakistan, leveraging the country’s talent pool to build an engineering hub. Their focus on bringing AI to technologically underserved businesses in sectors like trucking, construction, and energy is commendable. By equipping these industries with advanced technologies, Motive is driving improvements in safety, productivity, and efficiency.

It’s not common for companies to establish their primary AI teams in developing countries like Pakistan, but Motive has been an exception. Their decision to set up their AI team in Lahore speaks volumes about the talent and potential that Pakistan has to offer. With a team consisting of highly qualified individuals, including PhDs, Postdocs, and engineers with strong academic research backgrounds, Motive is making significant strides in AI technology. Their focus on building AI solutions to improve road safety and prevent accidents is commendable. Pakistan’s strong talent pool and growing IT industry make it an incredible engineering hub for innovation.

Pakistan has a remarkable pool of IT professionals, with a significant number of fresh graduates entering the workforce each year. The presence of around 17,000 software companies, serving clients in over 120 countries and generating $3 billion in IT export revenue, is truly impressive. It’s inspiring to see the growth of tech companies, start-ups, and research labs in the AI field, producing world-class products and conducting impactful research. However, you’re correct that the number of companies and startups in the AI space is relatively small. Investing in programs that bridge the industry-academia gap and inspire youth to pursue AI education and research is crucial. Training existing IT professionals in AI and establishing more centres like NCAI will further accelerate the growth of AI in Pakistan. As an Engineering Manager at Motive Technologies, you’re playing a vital role in developing world-class AI products for driver safety.