Microsoft launches multilingual AI chatbot to reach rural population of Indiatext_fields
Washington: IT giant Microsoft has launched a generative AI-driven chatbot called 'Jugalbandi' for people living in the rural part of India. It will operate over WhatsApp to make government schemes accessible in multiple languages.
According to the company, the chatbot can help bridge the language barrier in India. English is only spoken by only 11% of the 1.4 billion population and 57% of Indians speak Hindi. This leaves "vast numbers of the population unable to access government programmes because of language barriers." A statement said: "Jugalbandi offers all Indians easy access to information in the local language through a mobile phone, instead of having to head to the local community service center and stand in line just to get basic information."
The chatbot is designed to understand the user's exact problem in their language and deliver the right information reliably and cheaply, if that exists in some other language in a database.
The process of gaining information via text remains the same as it is in WhatsApp. "A villager sends a text or audio message to a WhatsApp number, which initiates the Jugalbandi bot. That is transcribed to text using the AI4Bharat speech recognition model. That, in turn, is translated to English by the Bhashini translation model trained by AI4Bharat," said Microsoft in a blog.
"Based on the prompt, Azure OpenAI Service's model retrieves information on the relevant government scheme. The answer is translated into Hindi. That is then synthesized with the AI4Bharat text-to-speech model and sent back to WhatsApp - and the villager's ear," added the post.
The chatbot was developed in collaboration with Microsoft Research and the government-backed AI4Bharat - an open-source language AI centre based at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras - and OpenNyAI.
The AI bot is not perfect at the moment. It only covers 10 of the 22 official languages in the country. It also has 171 out of approximately 20,000 government programmes. AI4Bharat is trying to resolve issues by seeking feedback.