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Report: Indian government building a ChatGPT-powered WhatsApp bot to help its farmers

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The Indian government's Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) is building a chat bot that will be powered by ChatGPT to help farmers in rural areas access information about key government schemes and subsidies.

A small team at MeitY, named "BHASHINI" (short for "BHASa INterface for India"), which means "an eloquent speaker", is developing the chat bot. Bhashini is India’s AI-based language translation platform. The chat bot will likely have a feature that will allow users to submit queries using voice notes as it can be a convenient and efficient way for farmers who may not be able to type or write their questions.

As seen in a demo by the Indian Express, the chat bot seamlessly responded to a spoken query about the details of the "PM Awas Yojana", the Indian government's scheme for affordable housing. A senior government official states that a model of this bot was shown to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who then mentioned about it at the World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Davos last month.

In an interview with WEF founder Klaus Schwab, Nadella said,

'“A demo I saw was a rural Indian farmer trying to access some government programme. He just expressed a complex thought in speech in one of the local languages that got translated and interpreted by a bot, and a response came back saying ‘go to a portal and here is how you will access the programme’. He said, ‘I’m not going to go to the portal, I want you to do this for me.’ The bot completed it, and the reason why it was able to complete it was because a developer building it had taken GPT and trained it over all of the Government of India’s documents and then scaffolded it with the speech recognition software. "

Building a chat bot based on language model for India will require large datasets of various local and regional languages spoken in the country on which the model can be trained on. To do this, government officials have highlighted an initiative called "Bhasha Daan" that crowdsources voice datasets in multiple Indian languages. People can contribute through the project's website by reading out text, typing out a sentence they hear, or translating them from one language to another.

As part of the testing phase, the model can handle 12 languages that includes English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, Odia, and Assamese. If a user were to send a voice note in any of these languages, the chat bot would respond successfully.

According to the government official, WhatsApp was intentionally selected as the delivery platform as it has over 500 million users, and even those with limited digital literacy are familiar with using this app in the country.

Source: The Indian Express

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