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Development of AI in Kazakh: Beeline Kazakhstan and QazCode signed a memorandum with GSMA and the Supercomputing Center of Barcelona

  VEON Ltd., a global digital operator providing converged communications and online services, announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Beeline Kazakhstan, GSMA and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC-CNS) in order to explore the possibility of cooperation in the field of artificial intelligence development for small language groups. 

  The parties will explore opportunities for cooperation, focusing on the development of mechanisms and documentation on language models and AI systems for languages with insufficient resources, including the countries in which VEON operates. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the four parties during the M360 Eurasia exhibition in Baku on May 15.

Why is this important?

The fact is that of the nearly 7,000 languages spoken worldwide, only seven are supported in the digital world: English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, Arabic, German and Japanese. The lack of resources in other languages leads to a language gap in AI, and this affects user experience, increases bias and digital inequality.

For example, Catalan is spoken by 10 million people living in various parts of Spain and other regions of Europe, such as Andorra and Alghero. For this reason, the priority task of the BSC Language Technologies division is to create digital resources that guarantee the presence of the Catalan language in the digital world, and at the same time make these resources useful for other languages for the same purpose. 

Why is this important for Kazakhstan?

  Working in countries where 7% of the world's population lives, speaking mainly languages with insufficient resources, VEON aims to solve the problem of the language gap in the field of AI by supporting the use of languages with low resources in AI. Starting in Kazakhstan, where QazCode, a subsidiary of Beeline Kazakhstan, has already launched Kaz-RoBERTA-conversational, an AI module in Kazakh that supports customer service in Beeline Kazakhstan digital applications. 

  "Artificial intelligence is the next turning point in the history of technology, and it is in our hands to design and develop it in such a way that it promotes universal integration. The ability to use languages with low access to resources in the AI world will allow hundreds of millions of people around the world to eliminate existing shortcomings in the field of artificial intelligence. We are pleased to become the first operator group to collaborate with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center and GSMA to explore the possibilities of solving this problem," said Caan Terzioglu, Chief Executive Officer of the VEON Group of Companies.

  In turn, the Chief Executive Officer of Beeline Kazakhstan Yevgeny Nasradin noted: 

  "Beeline Kazakhstan is a leading operator in the field of AI technologies in the markets where VEON operates. Having developed an AI-based solution in Kazakh, Beeline Kazakhstan and QazCode are well aware of the challenges and opportunities that arise in connection with Kazakhstan's transition to this era. We are very pleased to partner with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center and GSMA, which will bring international experience to our path of developing new scenarios for using AI applications in the Kazakh language." 

  The development of AI also creates gaps between languages, says Mateo Valero Cortez, director of BSC-CNS.

  "It is important to eliminate them in time. To do this, we provide our knowledge and resources, continuing to develop within the framework of the Aina Alliance and concluding a strategic agreement with GSMA. This is another step towards making our open source AI expertise available to the international community. BSC has released many open source datasets and models as part of the Aina project, becoming a leader in making open source AI resources available," added Mateo Valero Cortez. 

  Alex Sinclair, Director of Technology at GSMA, shared:

"The project with VEON and Beeline Kazakhstan is the first in our exciting journey with BSC. We encourage the industry to join us and work together to reduce the language barrier in the development and application of AI technologies. This disparity reinforces the language gap in AI and related issues, including isolated innovation and the widening digital divide. The Aina Alliance is committed to ensuring that no language is left behind as the world moves into the future, increasingly relying on AI."

A key element of the partnership will be the GSMA Foundry innovation accelerator, an initiative that unites mobile operators and representatives of other technology industries to help participants shape the digital future by quickly developing real solutions to industry challenges.

The cooperation will be carried out within the framework of the Aina Alliance, a joint project of the Catalan government and GSMA, based on the Aina project. This project, promoted and funded by the Government, aims to support the presence of small language groups in AI models, allowing native speakers of all languages to fully participate in the digital world. VEON was the first pilot project under this partnership. Now the Aina Alliance invites other partners, mobile operators and companies to join a joint effort to address the problem of language deficits in AI. 

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