AI Research Lab Funded By Silicon Valley NEDians at Their Alma Mater in Karachi
|Artificial Intelligence (AI) Applications|
Dr. Ata ur Rahman Khan, former chairman of Pakistan Higher Education Commission (HEC), believes there is significant potential to grow artificial intelligence technology and products. In a recent Op Ed in The News, Dr. Khan wrote as follows:
"Pakistan churns out about 22,000 computer-science graduates each year. With additional high-quality training, a significant portion of these graduates could be transformed into a small army of highly-skilled professionals who could develop a range of AI products and earn billions of dollars in exports."
It's notable that Pakistan's tech exports are growing by double digits and surged past $1 billion in fiscal 2018, according to State Bank of Pakistan.
Dutch publication innovationorigins.com recently featured a young Pakistani Tufail Shahzad from Dajal village in Rajanpur District in southern Punjab. Tufail has studied artificial intelligence at universities in China and Belgium. He's currently working in Eindhoven on artificial intelligence (AI) projects as naval architect and innovation manager at MasterShip Netherlands.
There is at least one Pakistani AI-based startup called Afiniti, founded by serial Pakistani-American entrepreneur Zia Chishti. Afiniti has recently raised series D round of $130 million at $1.6 billion valuation, according to Inventiva. Bulk of the Afiniti development team is located in Thokar Niaz Baig, Lahore. In addition, the company has development team members in Islamabad and Karachi.
This latest series D round includes former Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg; Fred Ryan, the CEO and publisher of the Washington Post; and investors Global Asset Management, The Resource Group (which Chishti helped found), Zeke Capital, as well as unnamed Australian investors. Investors in Afiniti's C series round included GAM; McKinsey and Co; the Resource Group (TRG); G3 investments (run by Richard Gephardt); Elisabeth Murdoch; Sylvain Héfès; John Browne, former CEO of BP; Ivan Seidenfeld; and Larry Babbio, a former president of Verizon. The company has now raised more than $100 million, including the money previously raised, according to VentureBeat's sources.
Drone is an example of artificial intelligence application. It now a household word in Pakistan. Drones outrage many Pakistanis when used by Americans to hunt militants and launch missiles in FATA. At the same time, drones inspire a young generation of students to study artificial intelligence at 60 engineering colleges and universities in Pakistan. It has given rise to robotics competitions at engineering universities like National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and my alma mater NED Engineering University. Continuing reports of new civilian uses of drone technology are adding to the growing interest of Pakistanis in robotics.
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