Microsoft's Sophia may have rekindled the interest in AI, several students from engineering institutes in the city were already exploring the topic.
AI and its associate fields, such as machine learning and data mining, have emerged as an important area of exploration and debate in the scientific community. While researchers are enamored by its endless potential, they are also concerned about the risk it poses to the human world.
However, these concerns have not deterred engineering students from working on various AI-related projects. "AI is the future. From ancient times, humans are trying to make things life easier for themselves. This is what AI does," said Shashank Agnihotri, a final-year engineering student at Vivekananda Educations Society's Institute of Technology.
Agnihotri and his classmates have written three research papers on the topic. Two of these papers, which have been published in research journals, are about a computer programme they developed to identify the author of a text by combining stylometry - the study of linguistic style - with AI. The programme is said to be useful in forensic science. He is now working on a project to generate automatic replies to online messages.
In view of the cyber attacks attack on Iranian nuclear facilities on the Ukrainian electric grid in 2015, a group of three students and graduates from Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), Matunga developed a real-time intrusion detection software which can detect such cyber breaches at power grids, oil and gas refineries, petrochemical industries and even smart transportation. The students won the first prize for their project at a global competition, held in Delhi, in which nearly 130 countries participated in November.
"Our software studies the pattern based on regular readings in large public systems and detects anomalies. It sends out an alert to the operator, averting an attack," said Sachin Parekh, a fourth-year electrical engineering student at the college.
AI is proving useful in a wide variety of fields. When a group of recent graduates from Saboo Siddik College of Engineering, Byculla started working on a startup to develop artificial limbs a few years ago, they had no inkling that this technology will help them increase the scope of their project. "Earlier, our limbs were useful only for the people for which they were designed. But, now we developing a system to train these limbs to adapt to individual needs of every person," said Hamza Shaikh, one of the students working on the project.
Amiya Tripathi, dean, research and development at Don Institute of Technology, Kurla said that the students are very enthusiastic about AI, although there's limited funding for these projects. "Machine learning and AI are growing at a rapid speed," he said.