Need to adopt a whole of government approach for realising India’s vision of AI: Amar Patnaik, MP (RS),Gaurav Gogoi, MP (LS)

New Delhi: Speaking at a CUTS International’s webinar on ‘Evolving Ecosystem for AI: Implications for Consumers’, Amar Patnaik, Hon’bl MP, Rajya Sabha, 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 on 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.

Gauarav Gogoi, Hon’bl MP, Lok Sabha, 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 deglobalisation, affecting global value chains, thereby impacting 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.

Gopal Krishna Agarwal, National Spokesperson – Economics Affairs, Bharatiya Janata Party, 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 regulation consultation process.

Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS, spoke about the challenges emanating from appointment of retired bureaucrats in regulatory agencies, which often leads to constraints in competency and expertise, especially in dynamic sectors such as those related to digital economy. He also called for light-touch regulations for fostering innovative AI driven services.

Udai S Mehta, Deputy Executive Director, CUTS, drew a linkage between AI, and its possible role in accelerating the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Amol Kulkarni, Director-Research, CUTS, 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.