Jugalbandi is a new WhatsApp multilingual chatbot unveiled on 23rd May 2023 at the Microsoft Build 2023 event. The company has designed this tool for farmers and people living in rural areas of India.
The bot uses generative AI technology like ChatGPT to ensure better replies to users and that too beyond the 22 officially recognized languages of India. Although at a very early stage of development, Microsoft hopes it would be able to give “easy access to information in local language through a mobile phone” to all Indians. People would no longer need to go to the community service center and stand in queues.
Jugalbandi supports a few Indian languages for now but it is being trained with more languages through several collaborations. The bot uses GPT models by Azure OpenAI service.
How to use Jugalbandi?
The process to use is almost the same as for other chatbots on WhatsApp. Microsoft said, “A villager sends a text or audio message to a WhatsApp number, which initiates the Jugalbandi bot. That is transcribed to text using the AI4Bharat speech recognition model. That, in turn, is translated to English by the Bhashini translation model trained by AI4Bharat. Based on the prompt, Azure OpenAI Service’s model retrieves information on the relevant government scheme. The answer is translated to Hindi. That is then synthesized with the AI4Bharat text-to-speech model and sent back to WhatsApp – and the villager’s ear.”
An open-source language AI center, AI4Bharat, is based at the IIT Madras. Bhashini is an Indian government initiative aiming to break apart language barriers among technology users.
Jugalbandi has “rough edges” like many other chatbots as declared by Microsoft. Thus, the company says the only and probably the best way to train the model is through users’ participation. It needs partnerships with local players as well to ensure dependable responses in local languages.
As soon as the bot is perfected, everybody would be able to comprehend and enrol for basic government schemes without any issue. WhatsApp is being used by Microsoft because it is widely popular in India.
Microsoft also said, “India has myriad government schemes and welfare programs, each with its own criteria and requirements. Official websites can be hard to navigate – or impossible if you can’t read or write or don’t know English. Getting precise answers early means fewer trips to the government service centres in each village for help and fewer trips home to retrieve missing documents.”
The bot was first introduced to the villagers of Biwan in early April. It covers 10 official languages as of now and 171 government programs out of 20,000. Another AI startup called OpenNYAI is also working on a chatbot to help users understand legal matters.