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Saturday, September 19, 2020

This 17-year-old school dropout is a CEO already

Ishant is learning specific subjects through MOOCs and online courses. He says that traditional education is good for mainstream vocations and his interest is in new-age technologies for which he is self-training and learning.

Written by Shyna Kalra | New Delhi | Updated: January 22, 2019 10:35:03 am
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Seventeen-year-old Ishant Pundir from Nahan, Himachal Pradesh dropped out of school after class 11 to work on his pet project, Asper. Six prototypes and one year after dropping out of school, Pundir has created, what he claims to be the first ever artificial intelligence (AI) enabled personal assistant robot.

Pundir’s father is a retired school teacher but did not object to his son’s decision to drop out of school. “I studied in Nahan till class 10 and then moved to Chandigarh in search of better opportunities. During my class 11, I started working on a project which could take instructions in a human-language on how a person feels, detect symptoms of the disease and send alerts to loved ones and doctors,” he told the indianexpress.com. “While working on the project I realised the potential of AI and decided to drop out of school and work full-time on the project,” he added.

The project now took the form of Asper. It is an amalgamation of smartphone and speaker-based virtual assistants which are provided by tech-giants including Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.

Pundir might have dropped out of traditional schooling system but continues to educate himself through online courses. “I am constantly learning about new technical courses such as robotics, AI, machine learning (ML) etc through MOOCs (massive open online courses). In my current course, I am learning from a former Google engineer who is working in China. I have enrolled in multiple online courses,” he said.

Pundir has no plans to take admissions in any engineering college. While most of the students of his age with a technical bent of mind, aspire to go the Indian Institutes of Technology, he has already been invited by the IIT-Delhi to display his project in its Pan IIT- alumni meet.

“School education has its own flaws. Since my parents are academicians, they also understand it and have supported me throughout. The traditional education is good for those who want to take up fixed mainstream careers such as a medical, engineering but I have specific interests and I would like to study about them,” he said.

asper, robot, AI assistant, voice command, emotional intelliegnce, MOOCs, AI courses, ML courses, robotics courses, latest courses, offbeat courses, school dropout CEO, 17 year old, IIT, IIT delhi, AI initiatives, Ishant Pundir, make in india, himachal pradesh, nahal, eductaion news Asper – the robot. (Express Photo)

He will soon launch Asper in restaurants to work as waiters. Asper will move around, take orders and send them to the kitchen in real-time using wireless. Based on the feedback, said the 17-year-old, Asper will be developed further.

Among salient features, Asper learns while talking to its users, collects their personalised information and provides them with the customised solutions. For instance, a simple command such as ‘play music’ will play songs as per the taste of the user.

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