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AI has been a subject of much speculation and debate since the 1950s, when Alan Turing asked if machines could think. However, the development and deployment of AI has proliferated only recently, enabled by access to vast amounts of data and a massive increase in computational power. From optimizing logistics to composing art, AI has the potential to radically transform society. The benefits could be vast – ranging from huge efficiency gains to solutions for complex problems.

Yet, unguided AI would also pose complex challenges related to the distribution of technology gains, the collection and use of personal data, and transparency and accountability of algorithmic decision-making. Risks associated with unintended consequences, misuse, and unpredictability also raise new and difficult governance challenges.

Even with earlier technologies, the persistence of health problems, hunger, malnutrition, energy-poverty and low agricultural productivity illustrate that market signals and incentives alone are not sufficient to generate technological applications for social needs. Technology companies, particularly those that have the capital to make investments in AI capacities, are leading many current discussions on the principles and governance of AI; unsurprisingly, many are calling for self-regulation. Many more voices and perspectives are needed. Social steering of AI through policies is critical, to align technological trajectories with societal goals and development needs of the poor.

Our work is organised around the following themes
  • AI ON THE GROUND / Empirical case studies that document the impact of automated algorithmic decision-making systems in India, from the perspective of equity and justice.

  • AI GOVERNANCE / Pathways and frameworks to align AI trajectories with societal well-being, contextualized to institutional and societal contexts in India.

  • RE-IMAGINING DATA / Narratives, mechanisms and institutional arrangements that prioritise individual and collective rights and accountability.

INITIATIVE OUTPUTS