The world is in an exciting time where the application of informatics and mathematics is changing the way we live and interact. Things considered as science fiction until recently are fast approaching to be the present day reality. The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) is partly responsible for such a change which has impacted diverse walks of life - from agriculture to healthcare to governance to fundamental research and so on. Unlike in the past, the current technological advancement, often dubbed as the 4th industrial revolution, not only has the potential to benefit low and middle income countries (LMICs) in a way never imagined before but also is likely to benefit from researchers in LMICs. We are a group of Nepali researchers who came together to collaborate and work towards realizing that potential.
NAAMII is a private not-for-profit organization that will conduct world-class research in the fields such as informatics, machine learning, computer vision, neuroscience, health, agriculture, climate change, education, and computational social science. NAAMII believes that the LMICs with the first hand experience of the global challenges must produce experts and innovators that can contribute to solving these challenges. Therefore, our research projects will have at least one principal investigator based in Nepal and trainees will be recruited from local universities to conduct research. This is particularly important because as AI starts becoming ubiquitous, it will be very important to have leaders and experts from the LMICs who can contribute to the global policies involving important issues such as ethics, bias, diversity and privacy which affect all of us.
For the least developed countries like Nepal, perhaps the biggest hurdle in tapping on the new technological developments is the short supply of skilled labor and innovators. This hurdle is a direct result of the meager budget allocated for research whether by private donors or by the government. NAAMII as a research institute aims to do projects that are suited to the national needs and have potential to generate revenue. In the process, we will train the next generation researchers and hopefully motivate all aspects of Nepalese society to invest in research. Our mission contrasts with that of the burgeoning private education institutions in Nepal as we focus our efforts in research activities and problem-solving rather than maximizing the quantity of students. Currently, despite the amount of funds spent and the great number of students studying engineering or health sciences, there is very little attention being given to research as a necessity for quality higher education.
NAAMII operates as a research academic institution with an open science policy making our data, research techniques and results publicly available. To fully benefit from these efforts, it will also require clear and encouraging policies at the national level to strengthen higher education in applied and basic science. We firmly believe that our efforts will carry a positive momentum towards this realization.
Lastly, NAAMII as an institute chooses to be apolitical with no association or inclination towards any national or international political party or ideology thereof. We believe in unity and collaboration among researchers and trainees, and therefore wish not to be involved in political affairs which, by nature in the contemporary world, is divisive.