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SRM University’s Next Tech Lab wins Microsoft Machine Learning Hackathon in USA

Two students from SRM University - Next Tech Lab, Kattankulathur, Chennai have won the Microsoft Machine Learning Hackathon held at Microsoft New England Office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA along with a team of 6 members.

Anshuman Pandey and Aditthya Ramakrishnan, who are spending their final semester as Interns at Carnegie Mellon University, recently participated in the New England Machine Learning Hackathon - for hacking the biases in machine learning, organized by Microsoft Research, Harvard University, MIT and Boston University on May 11th 2017. Their team was led by a Stanford Ph.D student and included students from MIT and Harvard. The team was able to come up with a hack that challenges the biases in algorithms used today by different jurisdictions across the States that help decide bail, sentences and parole of a defendant. They were able to show that biases exist in the results that are produced by these propriety algorithms and raised questions about whether to include sensitive variables like race and gender in these models that produce results to help judges decide the fate of a defendant in the court.

At the end of the hackathon they were able to develop a website that was able to address this issue and educate policy makers about it, which was also supported by a visualization dashboard allowing policy makers to compare for themselves by adjusting the factors included in the model. Each member won an Xbox One for their winning hack. They have collectively decided to take this forward and are in talks with policy makers and organizations in the US. Aditthya and Anshuman from the winning team said "India doesn't use any algorithm that assists a judge in deciding a sentence of any ruling of the court, but it can definitely be done since we have vast amounts of data and there is a chance that a Judge can be biased in passing his or her sentence even though there is no problem of race but merely on the basis of religion, caste or gender. With the current government making a colossal shift to digitizing India, students like us inspired to take the lead and redefine what it means to be Indian in this day and age. We think that using data science and machine learning will enable us to tackle important societal issues that we face in our journey to the top as a nation".

Anshuman and Aditthya previously spent a semester at Massachusetts Institute of Technology back in Fall of 2015 and upon their return in February 2016 they started a cross-disciplinary research lab - Next Tech Lab, run solely by students at SRM University. They have continuously believed in giving back to India all the knowledge and skills they acquire from their experiences and education abroad. Next Tech Lab focuses on cross-disciplinary research in various fields spanning from Artificial Intelligence, Human - Computer Interaction and Internet of Things, Computational Biology to name a few. Members of the lab have won several national level competitions earlier (including the recently concluded Smart India Hackathon), presented their research work at International Conferences and have published in reputed journals. They have helped over a thousand students across India by giving talks and workshops helping to create awareness about new cutting edge technologies yet to become mainstream in India and around the world.

They plan to propose to the Government of India and develop a system to help the Court of Law in India after they return later this year. With Prime Minister Modi's new initiative of Digital India, they believe that they will be able to play their part in taking the country forward in its digital revolution.

Microsoft Blogpost about the Hackathon - https://blogs.microsoft.com/newengland/2017/06/08/recap-new-england-machine-learning-day-2017/

Microsoft Video link about the Hackathon - https://goo.gl/EtH4RJ