Odia community dates machine learning and finds a miracle match – By Anjan Kumar Panda

Post COVID-19 digitized world has changed drastically. There are certain things which were unimaginable before are real and happening now. Everyone spends their time in front of the computer, connected to the world and space via the internet. This connectivity and sense of connectedness in the virtual world has dawned many realizations to individuals and communities. Communities which want to be connected can now be connected.


This realization of connectivity has ushered in unprecedented collaborations, people earlier hesitating for a video call for whatsoever reasons are open, conferencing solutions and their free tiers are helpful in this. A  global conference can be organized  these days  out of willing volunteers.


Hence crowdsourcing has become a thing again. Humans perform better when they collaborate, far more better when they are physically separate and emotionally connected, like the Odia community. Odia community is a community of extremely capable, very self respecting and silently performing individuals.  Odia community in diaspora miss things back home and the community at home  miss the exposure that diaspora has. This creates a natural emotional connection. This emotional connection is quite strong and has the potential to be converted into beneficial connections.  Except diaspora communities have other diversities, like producers and consumers, skilled individuals at different scales form a supply chain. A little engineering of the chain can bring wonders.


Following paragraphs will be an attempt to form those perceived winders into words.


Technology and Community:  A community always has a latent need for technology. Say a farmer in Odisha is definitely looking for how she/he can produce more from her/his firm, or a local businessman will always want to make more profit with the help of technology at disposal.


Why does it not happen? Someone may ask. The usual answers are lack of support from the ecosystem. However the ecosystem consists of the societal forces in play and is constantly evolving. This nature of the ecosystems gives opportunity for dreamers to try and succeed and to fail.


In communities like Odisha, people do not try because they do not want to fail. There are possibilities that with enough knowledge gathered from research, chances of failures and risks can be calculated and risks can be taken, those risks are called calculated risks. Entrepreneurs take calculated risks.

In Odisha for an entrepreneur Risks are around the funds, societal status and right mentorship.


With community help all these 3 above factors can be mitigated.


For funds, A well connected diaspora can arrange funds, it needs new forms of vehicles to attract funds for investments. Crowdsourcing mode of fundraising is also open in the connected world. A Community in the present world has a skill that is needed somewhere in the globe. A community member can be connected to mentor a needy mentee to acquire that skill. Global connectivity is a social status enhancer mitigating the risk of a startup founder is somehow low in social status profile in a developing nation.


So, in the present connected world allows brave entrepreneurs to calculate and mitigate the risks and start their venture without fear. This can happen to the pioneers even without call for government support because a well-organized community can gather the resources to solve its own problems, leaving governments to solve bigger problems it is capable of solving.


So, all these places where there is a problem offers an opportunity to the community.


Unavailability of Machine Translation from English to Odia has given a chance for Odia community volunteers to rise up to the challenge and build their own open source translation engines. Being a Low resource language , Odia NLP practitioners are looking for ways to make their neural networks work with smaller sets of data availability , often trying hybrid approaches that are leading to fusion in research opportunities that can capture the community intuitions and apply them into building technical systems that can evolve iteratively till perfection. Odia community has assembled itself to prepare and stay ahead in research and application of the modern technologies by creating a conducive ecosystem of volunteers working together.


There are opportunities in the field of local and global academia. Fundamental questions like how can we develop the local economy, or what the present market needs is a question easily discussable in the local management schools. The products and services needed to fulfill these local needs can be developed by local technology schools. Established local industry can tap into this cycle and become better, entrepreneurs can emerge through systems of institutional seed funding, angel funding mechanisms. Smart ones can do crowdsourcing for their ideas, raising funds from all over the world. Established diaspora can act as entrepreneurship as social service , meaning those who are not entrepreneurs themselves but are privileged to have enough spare money may try investing into seed funds , leveraging the investment banking knowledge from the community involved in wall street or dalal street.


Here the community pools knowledge towards an achievable end .

This pooling of community resources towards greater good and mutually individual good is demonstrably visible amongst Odia community. Present activism and community camaraderie even in specialist events like Odias in Machine Learning conference is a new trend and it is here to stay for good.

So technology meets and dates the Odia community and finds a miracle match.


Written by : Anjan Kumar panda

Edited by : Shyamanuja Das

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