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This 23-year-old ensures your smartphone camera clicks awesome pictures

Apeejay Kharghar alumnus Pushkar Raj Singh, member of the smartphone camera team of Samsung Electronics, says India has the potential to become the next Artificial Intelligence (AI) superpower

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As a ‘Visual Intelligence Engineer’ at Samsung, Pushkar is tasked to develop groundbreaking technologies to improve the camera quality of smartphones. He has also worked on deep learning and geometrical approaches to reconstruct 3D human models from input images of the person captured from multiple viewpoints. Pushkar, who completed his B-Tech in Computer and Communication from Manipal Institute of Technology, Karnataka, does a lot of AI research. In an informal chat, Pushkar talks about his school journey, why more megapixels do not mean better photo quality, the state of AI research in India, and more. Edited excerpts:

Take us through your school journey.

I loved every moment of my school education. I had a speech disorder during my school days and the support and the encouragement I received from my teachers is commendable. The best part about my school is that it encourages students to actively participate in extracurricular activities. My confidence soared as I took part in debates, mono acting and various other contests. I will always be grateful to Apeejay Kharghar for providing me with holistic education.  

As a camera expert, do you believe more megapixels equal better image quality?

No, more megapixels do not mean more quality.  Megapixels give your camera the ability to capture more detailed pictures that allows you to enlarge and crop pictures without individual pixels becoming visible. However, other factors such as quality of sensor, lenses, image processing unit (IPU), presence of Optical Image Stabilisation (to reduce blurring associated with the motion of a camera), etc are much more important in determining overall picture quality. That’s why, you may find a smartphone which, having less megapixels, snaps better images than other cameras with more megapixels. We at Samsung are continuously working to improve all aspects of camera improvement. 

You are actively involved in AI research. Of late, there has been growing concern over the misuse of AI. Your take. 

First, there are many advantages of AI. This bleeding-edge technology facilitates machines to act with a degree of autonomy, resulting in effective execution of repetitive tasks. Using AI alongside other technologies we can make machines make faster decisions. AI is part of our everyday life. For example, Apple’s Siri, Windows’ Cortana, Google’s OK Google are frequently used in our daily routine to execute numerous tasks. AI is also powering many inventions in almost every domain which will benefit mankind. However, there are instances where AI has been misused. One of the more popular abuses of AI are deep fakes, which involve the use of AI techniques to craft or manipulate audio and visual content in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness. I believe individuals and groups from our field have to come with ways to check AI misuse.

What is the future of AI research in India?

It’s said that whoever leads in artificial intelligence in the coming time will rule the 21st century. India can certainly become the next artificial intelligence superpower through continuous innovation and consistent R&D in the technology front. Also, the research work done by Indians is impressive. According to a research done by Scopus (the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature: scientific journals, books and conference proceedings), India has been the third most productive country in AI and Machine Learning research, with over 2,30,000 papers. Indian companies and AI-entrepreneurs should invest more in research to create India-origin AI products and solutions.

What are the qualities of a good researcher?

The ability to solve problems is a basic life skill and is essential to our day-to-day lives. Research is nothing but a thorough understanding of a given problem and finding its possible solution. I love doing research as it allows me to learn all my life. To be a good researcher one needs to be curious and inquisitive and not be fixated with goals or outcomes. The process is more important than the result.

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]

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