UK Based EduTech INTCAS To Start Operations In Pakistan In First Quarter Of 2020
The fourth industrial revolution is upon us with the advent of Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Blockchain among other innovations in the tech world are here; the future is seemingly now.
There is unfortunately a lack in the quality of education in Pakistan that needs to be overcome to fill the market demand. Although, with close to 50,000 Pakistani students studying abroad, a focus on scholarships for STEM degrees would help bridge the gap the country desperately needs to close. This is not to say that Pakistan does not have qualified individuals to implement these fast-changing technologies; the government has already undertaken an initiative through the PIAIC for 100,000 students to take part.
These technologies are important to adopt throughout Pakistan in order to be competitive in the 21st century, in industries such as finance, healthcare, education and even the military sector.
The technologies that INTCAS seamlessly brings together into its ‘one stop shop’ app are aimed at students who wish to apply abroad for study purposes. Through the harnessing of copious amounts of Big Data, then using its unique AI algorithm to process information for each student, the system shows the best course of study at the most suitable institutions. All of this is done through Blockchain, which securely decentralizes where information is remotely stored via Cloud Computing.
With the announcement of British tech company INTCAS officially launching in Pakistan in Q1 of 2020, let’s take a look at this company with a focus on education and what can be learned from the various technologies it uses and how they are relevant to Pakistan.
Artificial Intelligence is probably the most commonly known form of (smart) technology when it comes to the automation of tasks by computers. AI is a sense of learning, such as on a smartphone. Things like voice or facial recognition, digital assistants such as Siri or Alexa and even predictive text are all forms of AI.
Blockchain is the use of decentralising information by storing it on a wide range of different servers that can be accessed anytime using cloud computing. Cloud Computing is storing of data not on local servers such as hard drives but online on what is known as the cloud, allowing the user to access their data wherever they are in the world with an internet connection. Big Data is the accumulation of large amounts of information that is then processed through the use of cloud computing, blockchain servers and algorithms to be able to crunch the millions of pieces of data in just a few minutes. All major tech companies use big data to tailor their services to each client, such as Facebook, Twitter and Netflix.
AI is used in INTCAS through the use of machine learning, using a complex algorithm that is able to predict the best suited results for each individual student based on information given such as students’ preferences, educational results, psychometric tests among other factors. The company is described by its head Zakaria Mahmood as an ‘artificial intelligence platform’, very much based around predicting algorithms on the future success of a student by processing various career paths for them.
Data such as information on the student, their degrees and bank statements are put through the INTCAS blockchain, ensuring that the information included cannot be counterfeited in any way. This can be used to combat money laundering and terror funding through the uses of escrow accounts, making sure that only legitimate students and financial institutions are engaging in the transaction.
INTCAS takes the copious amounts of data it receives from the applicants via the cloud and cross-references it using its complex algorithm against 9 billion public records to help universities carry out due diligence in deciding if the applicant is suitable for them. The intuitive cross-checking system also aids in streamlining the admissions and visa process.
Regarding its use in Pakistan, AI has the ability to transform entire industries, from transportation in terms of self-driving cars and breakthroughs in the detection of cancers in health to technology. Moreover, AI can be used in educational applications such as INTCAS by helping streamline varying requisites into one ‘smart application’ or agriculture by analyzing soil and crop conditions in order to help farmers manage expected yields. Pakistan is currently using Blockchain to accept remittances from abroad. $20 Billion dollars are sent annually back to Pakistan and now, through Telenor and Alibaba, remittances will be able to be sent through secure blockchain technology, faster than traditional bank transfers that are already in place.
This is possible through the existing infrastructure of cloud computing which is popular in Pakistan, as Waqas Hashmi of Oracle Corporation stated, “Pakistani customers and users are eager and ready to adapt any new technology as far as IT maturity is concerned.”
The National Center in Big Data and Cloud Computing was set up in 2018 in Pakistan to deal with various different disciplines in which Big Data can be utilised, from energy needs to medical research and beyond. With regards to the center, politician Ahsan Iqbal had said, “It marks the realization of a dream to Pakistan to position itself as a knowledge-based economy driven by data which is the ‘new oil’”.
It won’t be erroneous to state that the massive investment in the country is a positive development, what remains to be seen is how the Pakistani student market will respond to it.