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Sansad TV: Perspective- AI: Ethical Conundrum





Artificial Intelligence is a top emerging technology with applications across industries and implications for our society. AI is a collective term for computer systems that can sense their environment, think, learn, and take action in response to what they’re sensing and their objectives. Forms of AI in use today include digital assistants, chatbots and machine learning amongst others. The global AI industry is thriving. In 2021, AI global funding doubled to $66.8 billion. Each year, more and more companies and governments worldwide are adopting AI solutions. However simultaneously concerns have been raised by experts on the ethical aspect of development and use of AI. Recently Twitter chief, Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak along with several other prominent names have signed an open letter calling for a six-month pause on the development of artificial intelligence systems that are more powerful than GPT-4.In India the govt has recently informed Parliament that to address the ethical concerns and potential risks associated with AI, various central and state government departments and agencies have commenced efforts to standardize responsible AI development, use and promote the adoption of best practices.

Techno Ethics: AI

  • We often see technology as a helping hand or better yet, a path to a better world. But before any of that, we have to lay down the ethics with in it so we can have a moral underground on where to start. This is especially true with Artificial intelligence.
  • Techno ethics views technology and ethics as socially embedded enterprises and focuses on discovering the ethical use of technology, protecting against the misuse of technology, and devising common principles to guide new advances in technological development and application to benefit society.
  • In just the last decade, AI has evolved with unprecedented velocity — from beating human champions at Jeopardy (a game) in 2011, to vanquishing the world’s number one player of Go, to decoding proteins.
  • As AI is evolving, it is raising some new ethical and legal questions. AI works by analysing data that is fed into it and draws conclusions based on what it has learned or been trained to do.
  • Though it has many benefits, it may pose a threat to humans, data privacy, and the potential outcomes of the decisions. To curb the chances of such outcomes, organisations and policymakers are crafting recommendations about ensuring the responsible and ethical use of AI.

Significant advances and applications of AI:

  • It has the potential to overcome the physical limitations of capital and labour and open up new sources of value and growth.
    • It has the potential to drive growth by enabling
    • Intelligent automationability to automate complex physical world tasks.
    • Innovation diffusionpropelling innovations through the economy.
  • Heavy Industries & Space: Through AI an entire manufacturing process can be made totally automated, controlled & maintained by computer system.
    • Example: car manufacturing machine tool production, computer chip production. Etc.
    • They carry out dangerous tasks like handling hazardous radioactive materials.
  • Finance: Banks use intelligent software application to screen & analyse financial data.
    • Software that can predict trends in stock market have been created which have been known to beat humans in predictive power.
  • Aviation: Air lines use expert system in planes to monitor atmospheric condition & system status.
  • Role in social development and inclusive growth: Access to quality health facilities, addressing location barriers, providing real-time advisory to farmers and help in increasing productivity, building smart and efficient cities etc.
  • Examples of AI use in India: A Statement of Intent has been signed between NITI Aayog and IBM to develop Precision Agriculture using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Aspirational Districts.
    • National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) launched Pai which is an AI based chatbot, to create awareness around NPCI’s products like FASTag, RuPay, UPI, AePS on a real time basis.

Lack of R&D on AI in India:

  • Both the government and companies are largely focused on AI applications, not research and development (R&D).
  • And even in applications, much of the work is at the mid and lower ends of the spectrum.
  • India is not in the top 10 nations when it comes to AI research.
  • According to experts, currently, the race is really between the US, China and the EU, with the US in a slender lead. India has not even entered the race yet.
  • Techno-colonialism describes the situation where the country or countries that control a technology exploit other, poorer countries that depend on access to that technology.
  • China started much later but has invested big money to play catch-up.
  • In India, neither the government nor the industry has focused much on research compared to US and China.
  • In India we need to formulate a long-term plan just as we do for other infrastructure plans.
  • For this the government must take a long-term view.
  • Unless we start now, we will forever remain a dependent rather than a leader in the technology stakes.

Way Forward:

  • It remains our collective responsibility to ensure trust in how AI is used. Algorithm transparency is key to establishing this trust.
  • We must protect the world against weaponisation of AI by non-state actors.
  • Riding on data and AI, India can achieve the bold vision of becoming a US$5 trillion economy by 2025.
  • To achieve this, AI needs to be extensively utilized in all sectorsranging from agriculture, MSMEs, financial services, healthcare to energy and logistics to create a vibrant AI economy.