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Why India’s move to regulate AI could be a necessary intervention?

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By Sanil Basutkar, Cofounder and Head of Product & Marketing, Bharatsure

In a landmark move, India has taken a decisive step towards regulating the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence (AI). This decision comes in the wake of global incidents, notably Google’s AI misadventure with Gemini. Gemini, Google’s advanced question-answering and image-generating AI aimed to address bias but found itself entangled in a web of public outrage, calls for a corporate breakup, and a plummeting stock price. The attempt to prioritise diversity over accuracy was dubbed wokeness gone wrong, shedding light on the intricate dance between good intentions and the complexities of AI algorithms.

Gemini’s failure underscores the multifaceted challenges in achieving fair AI. If tailored to India’s intricate socio-demographic fabric, an AI could inadvertently exacerbate existing tensions tied to caste, religion, and regional identities. Picture an AI, influenced by the country’s deeply ingrained social structures, inadvertently favoring figures solely from marginalised castes or religious minorities. Such a scenario could stoke discord with dominant groups and be misconstrued as pushing a specific agenda.

Adding another layer of complexity is India’s vast population with diverse regional identities. An AI
showcasing figures predominantly from one region in response to generic prompts might spark resentment from other regions, potentially escalating into riots and fostering regionalism over national unity. The Gemini debacle serves as a universal reminder: the journey to unbiased AI resembles a tightrope walk between good intentions and intricate algorithms.

Much like Google’s misstep, AI algorithms trained on generic datasets can perpetuate societal biases. In response, regulations can play a pivotal role by mandating fairness audits and compelling developers to be transparent about data sources. Consider the case of the homegrown Krutrim AI, confidently stating incorrect prompts, highlighting the challenges in ensuring the factual accuracy of data models. The government’s decision to make approval from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) mandatory for AI models stems from concerns about biased outputs, exemplified by incidents like Gemini and possibly Krutrim.

The government’s push for explicit disclaimers aims to address potential biases and uphold responsible AI practices. The hypothetical scenario of Gemini in an Indian context underscores the potential for AI to magnify social tensions based on caste, religion, and region. Regulations, therefore, become a crucial tool in ensuring AI development aligns with India’s specific social context and fosters inclusivity.

However, a conservative approach to AI development in India has its silver lining. Drawing parallels with the robust banking regulations in the country, which have contributed to a resilient banking system, a similar approach to AI development could position India as a global leader in ethical AI. While compliance requirements may pose initial challenges for startups, the long-term impact could be overwhelmingly positive. A strong regulated environment instills confidence among users and investors, fostering responsible innovation. Startups adhering to ethical AI practices stand poised to thrive in this evolving ecosystem.

The cautionary tale of Google’s AI debacle serves as a guiding light for India’s regulatory endeavors. The push for regulations not only ensures responsible AI development but also signals a recognition of the need to safeguard India’s unique social fabric. The government’s evolving stance towards AI regulation suggests a keen awareness of real-world examples like the Gemini case, transforming challenges into opportunities for Indian AI startups to emerge as global leaders.

India’s bold move to regulate AI platforms reflects a proactive response to the challenges posed by biased AI outputs. As the nation navigates this uncharted territory, the potential for responsible AI development becomes a beacon of hope, positioning India as a trailblazer in the ethical use of artificial intelligence. With a strategic focus on comprehensive regulations, India is poised to lead the way in shaping the future landscape of AI development globally.

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