New Delhi: Participants at a webinar organized by international NGO CUTS International on ‘Evolving Ecosystem for AI: Implications for Consumers’, opined in unison that there was a need to adopt a whole of government approach for realising India’s vision of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The participants in the webinar included, among others JPC Committee members on Personal Data Protection Bill’19, Mr Amar Patnaik, MP (RS) and Gaurav Gogoi, MP (LS). Mr. Gopal Krishna Agarwal, National Spokesperson, Economic Affairs, BJP also participated in the deliberations.
Speaking at the webinar Mr Amar Patnaik highlighted that consumers need to be kept at the centre while deliberating upon Artificial Intelligence (AI), since they will be its last-mile beneficiaries, and also bear the brunt in case of its misuse.
He also stressed upon the need for incentivising investment in domestic R&D of evolving technologies such as AI. Calling AI the most important innovation after electricity, he also called for having a consumer oversight mechanism for building consumers’ trust in AI, by offering appropriate grievance redress avenues, and also protecting them from deep fakes, smart spying, privacy violations, among other risks.
The role of the proposed Data Protection Authority, as per the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019, would be crucial in this regard.
Lok Sabha MP Gaurav Gogoi stressed on the need for regulations to catch pace with dynamically evolving digital technologies like AI and its rapid uptake.
He cautioned government ministries/departments from working in silos, and also asked the government to have inclusive stakeholder interactions on the subject. The central government was also asked to create a Central Innovation Fund for State Governments on AI, for different sectors.
Highlighting the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, he mentioned that countries including India, are becoming more inward-looking, which is leading to de-globalisation, affecting global value chains, thereby impacting the digital economy.
Furthermore, he pressed on the need for nurturing domestic talent and framing regulations keeping in mind the interests of domestic entrepreneurs, particularly in the IT/ITES sector.
Bharatiya Janata Party National Spokesperson – Economics Affairs Gopal Krishna Agarwal highlighted the government’s efforts of promoting innovation, such as through the Atal Innovation Mission, and setting up of the National Startup Advisory Council.
He acknowledged the importance of data protection and privacy, with respect to AI, and highlighted data anonymisation, data localisation and data ownership as important issues requiring adequate attention.
He also called for revisiting the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy, in light of evolving data-driven technologies like AI. Civil Society Organisations such as CUTS were also mentioned as key stakeholders in the regulation consultation process.
CUTS Secretary General Pradeep S Mehta spoke about the challenges emanating from the appointment of retired bureaucrats in regulatory agencies, which often leads to constraints incompetency and expertise, especially in dynamic sectors such as those related to the digital economy. He also called for light-touch regulations for fostering innovative AI-driven services.
CUTS Deputy Executive Director Udai S Mehta drew a linkage between AI and its possible role in accelerating the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.
CUTS Director-Research Amol Kulkarni, highlighted the role of evidence-based regulation-making, by employing tools such as Regulatory Impact Assessment, for balancing the interests of all stakeholders in India’s AI ecosystem.
The webinar witnessed participation of around 80 representatives from civil society organisations, industry players, academicians, former bureaucrats, policy influencers, media, etc.