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Machine Learning: The Next Big Thing In Artificial Intelligence


Artificial intelligence is everywhere. There is a possibility that you are using it in one way or the other and you don’t even know about it.

You must have seen an advertisement for Amazon Echo, Alexa, Siri, Cortana are some of the popular virtual personal assistants that help us in finding information, for example:

What is my schedule for today?
What are the flights from Delhi to Mumbai?

Apps like Spotify, Pandora and Apple music are capable of recommending music based on your interest. These apps monitor the choices you make, insert them into a learning algorithm and suggest music you are most likely to enjoy.

Have you ever noticed that you shopped for a product online a few days back and then you keep receiving emails and adds on websites for shopping suggestions? This refines the shopping experience but do you know why it is so? It’s Machine Learning doing the magic for you. On the basis of your behaviour with the website you browsed, things are recommended.

Before digging deeper into the topic, let’s briefly know what artificial intelligence is, the role of Machine Learning and why it matters to us.

Artificial Intelligence is the branch of Computer Science concerned with making computers behave like humans. Basically, it is the ability of a machine or a computer program to think and learn, where they can be capable of interacting with their environment and acting upon the received data in a manner considered intelligent. Usually, they are considered for performing specific tasks, like to calculate equations, file your taxes, in video games to make the game challenging, industrial robotics, banking software, medical diagnosis.

In 1950, Alan Turing a computer scientist proposed a test named as Turing Test. It was designed to test whether a particular machine can think. In order to pass the test, the machine must be capable of making a human believe that it is another human instead of a computer. And just after this test, in 1959, another scientist Arthur Samuel coined the term Machine Learning, evolved from the study of pattern recognition and learning theory of Artificial Intelligence. When we say that the machine learns, we mean that the machine is able to make predictions based on past behaviour or observations. We can say that it is a method of data analysis based on the idea that a system can learn from data, identify patterns, make decisions and identify focuses on the development of computer programs. It makes the software applications more accurate in predicting outcomes without being programmed.

But how exactly do machines learn? They are often categorised as supervised learning where an algorithm seeks a function from inputs to the respective targets. Here, input and the outputs are clearly identified and when Machine Learning task is only with a set of input then it is termed as unsupervised Machine Learning. It is estimated that about 70% of Machine Learning is supervised learning, while 10-20% is unsupervised learning. Other methods that are often used are semi-supervised and reinforcement learning.

To better understand the use of Machine Learning, consider some instances where it is applied:

Have you ever thought how Uber/Ola determine the price of your ride? The answer is simple Machine Learning. Using a Machine Learning algorithm, it determines arrival time, pickup locations and delivery estimations.

Have you been using GPS navigation services? When we use this service, our real-time location and the speed with which we are travelling are saved at a server. And this data is then used to build a map of current traffic.

Nowadays, a number of websites offer the option to chat with a customer support representative. As every website does not have real people to answer queries all the time, in most cases you talk to a bot. These chatbots understand the user queries and serve them by extracting information from the website.

This is why it’s said we are living in the golden age of Machine Learning. With the current rate of development it’s difficult to foresee a future without Machine Learning in it.

IBM recently surveyed top auto executives and 74% expected that we would see smart cars on the road by 2025. These cars, using Machine Learning, will not only drive themselves but also learn about driver preference and automatically adjust temperature and music based on their likes and dislikes.

Machine Learning is also taking a bigger part in our health and well being on a daily basis. It is used for faster patient diagnosis. Doctors will soon be able to predict with accuracy on how long patients with fatal diseases will live. Not only this, it is expected that within the next decade, a majority of our shipping and rail networks will be controlled autonomously.

We can see just how far we have come in terms of Machine Learning. And we are going to see massive developments in the near future. Time will show us that Machine Learning is one of our greatest tech blessings.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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