AI For All ? Launch of our AI & Society Initiative !

We hosted a policy lab on 24 & 25 July to deliberate the key issues and challenges that India must navigate as it initiates a national strategy for AI.

In 2018, we launched our AI & Society initiative to examine the various ways in which AI is reshaping political, economic and social relations in India. To kick-start this, we are hosting a series of 6 policy labs, in partnership with FES, to identify the key issues and challenges, and create a community of scholars and practitioners in India. The first lab of the series, on July 24-25, brought together technologists, researchers, and policymakers, to investigate key narratives, actors, and institutions shaping AI trajectories in India; issues around data governance and privacy; old and new socioeconomic inequities; accountability and governance challenges; and knowledge and policy needs.

It is clear that artificial intelligence has the potential to transform society— its capabilities range from optimizing the logistics of a given system to composing its own art. The benefits could be vast –from huge efficiency gains to solutions for complex problems. Yet, unguided, AI poses complex challenges related to the distribution of technology gains, the collection and use of personal data, and the transparency and accountability of algorithmic decision-making. Risks associated with unintended consequences, misuse, and unpredictability raise new and complicated governance challenges.

Much of the current conversation about AI is framed in the language of technological innovation and productivity gains. Thus, there is an urgent need to examine the complex social, ethical and governance-based challenges that arise in such technological adoption, as well as understand the ways in which society should shape these technologies. These challenges are likely to vary across social contexts as tech trajectories intersect with local systems. The access to and impact of AI technologies on different social groups, for example, needs to be understood else AI risks entrenching existing socioeconomic inequities.

The lab’s results reinforced the need to continue this discussion and debate surrounding AI strategy and policy. In order stay ahead of the social conundrums in an AI future, such issues must be addressed in a continuous and reflexive capacity.

  • Anita Gurumurthy, IT for Change
  • Anja Kovacs, Internet Democracy Project
  • Arnab Kumar, Niti Aayog
  • Baneen Karachiwala, Video Volunteers
  • Chinmayi Arun, Center for Communication Governance
  • Daniel Buhr, Steinbeis Transfer Center for Social and Technological Innovation
  • Deepak Khemani, IIT Madras
  • Mahesh Venkateswaran, Knack
  • Malavika Jayaram, Digital Asia Hub
  • Naveen Thayyil, IIT Delhi
  • Osama Manzar, Digital Empowerment Foundation
  • Satish Sangameswaran, Microsoft Research
  • Sean Blagsvedt, Jaaga
  • Sumandro Chattapadhyaya, Center for Internet & Society
  • Usha Ramanathan


AI & Society