Sat, April 20, 2024

AI/ML Opportunities in Nepal V

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This article is the fifth and final part of a series where I explore the implementation of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies in Nepal. Some of these can include businesses that are working in this space, based out of Nepal. In part IV, I talked about the application of AI/ML in national security, eCommerce, and personal financial management. This time, I will look into AI/ML opportunities here in Nepal in regard to aquaculture (fish farming), healthcare (drug discovery), and domestic robots.


All the way back in part I of this series, I talked about using artificial intelligence and machine learning in agriculture here in Nepal. Likewise, AI/ML can be implemented in aquaculture for higher efficiency and sustainability. For instance, Aquabyte is a Norwegian company with offices in the US and Chile, offering data-driven fish farm monitoring through its holistic software platform. They install a camera in the net pen and provide the tools to monitor real-time metrics. Using AI/ML and computer vision tech, Aquabyte provides accurate data regarding lice counting, biomass estimation, appetite detection, and feed optimization for large-scale fish farming businesses. The absence of any large-scale fish farming in Nepal will not be a problem. Any lack of professional expertise and specialised human knowledge will be handled directly by artificial intelligence allowing us to skip the presence of any prior experience. Appetite detection and feed optimization are particularly useful. Fish farmers here use experience and instinct to determine fish feeding time and amount. However, the margin of error is high and it brings much wastage in terms of wasted feed or fish death due to overfeeding. It would be quite cost-effective and time-efficient to know when to feed and how much to feed without any wastage, especially when the scale, and the costs associated with it, is large. Nepali fish farm owners and businesses can invest in such tech to bring increased yields and greater profit through decreased fish mortality and reduced operational costs.

Healthcare - Drug Discovery

As with most commercial sectors, the pharmaceutical industry has experienced a drastic rise in data digitisation. As such, incredible amounts of data must be acquired, scrutinised, and applied to solve complex clinical problems. AI/ML helps handle this with enhanced automation. Drug development is one field that requires ample data. It is also a lengthy and expensive process. Drug companies worldwide have had the problem of spending millions on a prototype only to find failure in human trials. Not only an enormous amount of money is wasted but also many years of effort. AI/ML can be leveraged to optimise and speed up discovery and development cycles through implements such as pattern recognition and deep learning. Additionally, costly inaccuracies and wastage can be avoided. AI-based drug discovery applications use machine learning and deep learning to come up with computational approaches for producing solutions to sample problems fed into the system. Essentially, the software does the mechanical work of many scientists in a fraction of the time with no extra effort. Genesis Therapeutics is a group of deep learning researchers, software engineers, and drug developers. Using AI/ML techs such as deep neural networks and biophysical simulations, they are on the path to improve each stage in the drug development process. Their system uses models of molecules, bonds, and other relevant factors. This tech is quite new and does not require drug manufacturing capabilities. A lot of our people work in biotech, especially abroad. With their skills and the tech developed by engineers here, Nepal can join in to keep up with the frontrunners. Drug discoveries and improvements here in Nepal will be highly beneficial for the people and the nation as a whole.

Domestic Robots

Automation is clearly what the future holds and robots are the primary driving force behind this. Large-scale industries such as manufacturing have already implemented robotic automation but robots are now accessible to the normal household more than ever. The iRobot Roomba 980 is a robot vacuum cleaner that automatically cleans floors throughout a level of a house, navigating all areas while keeping track of its location. It uses AI to scan the size of the room, identify obstacles, and memorize the most efficient routes for cleaning. The tech is sophisticated enough to work continuously for up to two hours before recharging and resuming its job. The sensors even prevent tumbles from any height such as from stairs. All this with no human assistance. You only need to press a button. Although it may seem far off right now, there is a potential scope in the creation and use of domestic robots like the Roomba in Nepal. An increasing number of students in engineering colleges are getting involved in robotics. Competitions are cropping up more and more such as Robot Warz organized by Pulchowk Engineering Campus. Nepal even competed in the World Robot Olympiad (WRO) in 2019. Our students have the drive and the creativity to compete but have lacked proper opportunities in past years. Progress is being made but government-backed robotics competitions and scholarship programs alongside large platforms through organizations such as the Robotics Association of Nepal (RAN) can speed up the innovation of domestic robots in our nation. Imagine a Nepalese Roomba 980 but cheaper and easily accessible.
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MARCH 2024

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