27th September 2023


India’s First Do Tank linking Tech and Geopolitical Power

Preserving Human Control: Ensuring AI does Good

(Title partly generated by ChatGPT!)

June 8, 2023

There is a very important ET article “India’s voice must be heard louder in the global artificial intelligence debate that should be taken wider note of in India, where there is not enough public discussion on the challenges associated with the further evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI)/ Generative Artificial Intelligence. The article warns that AI is enabling countries and corporations to amass unprecedented levels of power, and also warns of the impact of AI on jobs in countries like India with young demographics.

But let us listen to the scientist experts on this (don’t take my word for it).

This video “Apple’s New AI Features has Everyone Stunned!” boasting of advances made by Apple in mapping an individual’s psyche, medical parameters, facial expressions and thoughts – forebodes a future in which AI can be used to enhance surveillance and control entire populations. Big Tech would then likely partner with the Deep State in every country in furtherance of their respective agendas driven by special purpose algorithms. Indeed, works like Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”, the TV series “Black Mirror,” and the film “The Matrix” provide foretastes of possible futures in which populations can be manipulated or controlled by shadowy oligarchic elites.

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, has reassured his audience he will put public good over profit, but will his competitors, will Big Tech, will the military – emulate him? The autonomous, AI-enabled weapons unhindered by ethical constraints being rapidly developed by the United States and China – will be used in future battlefields. As quality jobs dwindle and/ or get confined to a vanishing elite, the ground is already being laid for deepening inequality. Even the Gig economy might be seen as a more dignified alternative to a future powered by AI. In fact, in such a scenario, would population decline be a necessity, as there wouldn’t be any dignified occupations left for the vast majority unskilled in emerging technologies?

Geoffrey Hinton, a Google Brain Scientist, recently resigned from Google citing his fears over AI. While its proponents are busy reassuring us that the new Chatbots exploding on the scene are only glorified text predictors, he glimpses the beginning of reasoning abilities in the AI systems he has worked on. He feels that the day is not far off when they would mature beyond human intelligence, which is in fact what Elon Musk and others have been fretting about. Blake Lemoine, a computer engineer, was fired from Google after he declared his AI was sentient. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has done right to warn the US Congress about the need to regulate AI  and it is hoped that India also will take a serious view of these risks and take appropriate action.

We would like to add that the non-regulation of data flows in India means that Big Tech and foreign consultancies can mine Indian data – corporate, personal, official, financial – unhindered and use it to train their algorithms and repurpose them for Indian and foreign use cases. India thus loses the leverage as a source of priceless data that the ET article mentions. To paraphrase an expert Shri Parminder Jeet SIngh, Director of ITforChange, while India provides the raw data, the “Brain” is developed by foreign entities and the resulting products are sold back to us and to other buyers at a vast premium. Big Tech and the Big 4 don’t seem to understand the concept of Conflict of Interest, with PwC leaking confidential information on Australian tax policies to their corporate clients. And this isn’t the first time this has happened. We had accordingly asked the RBI not to outsource AI based supervisory tech to foreign consultancies.

At the same time, AI is being and can be used to do unprecedented levels of good, as Sam Altman has mentioned in his highly interesting talk delivered to Indian CEOs organised by ET referred to above. India needs to cooperate with others to ensure that AI is used for good and for the benefit of people around the world and forestall any dystopian future run by Big Tech and Deep States. It can start by regulating the flows of Big Data beyond its borders and use it as leverage as suggested by the ET article, to ensure that its concerns – that AI should be used for the public good – are heard at the international level.