AI for All: 10 Social Conundrums for India | Working Paper

Based on insights shared at the first, of six, policy labs on AI trajectories in India, this working paper maps the possible challenges and risks.

AI strategy and policy ultimately presents a ‘wicked problem’ for public policy. Wicked problems are those that have multiple interacting systems— social, ecological, and economic— a number of social and institutional uncertainties, and imperfect knowledge. Possible solutions to existing problems create a new set of additional challenges and the choice between available alternatives are often largely about competing values.

Addressing wicked problems requires engaging multiple stakeholders in iterative and adaptive strategies; enabling collaborative sense-making, experimentation, and learning; and building capacities for reflexiveness and foresight. This paper take the first step in the direction of developing ‘a capacity for reflexiveness’ by engaging a range of actors through a Technology Foresight Group (TFG) in an in-depth diagnosis of the social conundrums pertaining to AI trajectories in India. This brief presents 10 social conundrums for AI trajectories in India, arising from the inherent wickedness of AI futures. The large-scale deployment of AI technologies is still at an early stage in India, and impact is hard to identify and assess. Yet, the range of potential social conundrums need to be identified early and contextualised to the Indian context to be able to generate anticipatory knowledge about plausible and preferable future policy pathways.

10 Social Conundrums for India
  • Reconciling multiple, competing social narratives

  • Concentration & Collusion of Power

  • Work, Mobility and Digital Labor

  • Social / Digital Identity

  • Biased Robots

  • Concentration of Knowledge (and Power)

  • Privacy frameworks: Unfit for purpose?

  • Reporting Citizens / Surveillance State

  • What / How to Govern

  • Reconfiguring human agency


AI & Society


Urvashi Aneja

Urvashi studies the politics, social impacts, and ethics of technology transitions in the global south. She has written extensively on the challenges and risks of AI in India, the emerging gig economy and labor well-being, data governance and gender and technology. She has served on government committees for artificial intelligence and frontier technologies. Urvashi is also an Associate Fellow at Chatham House, a Tech and Social justice champion at the World Economic Forum, and a former member of the T20 Task Force for the Future of Work in the G20. She regularly writes for national media publications and has been quoted in the BBC, Reuters, CNBC, Times of India, and Indian Express, among others. Previously she was a Research Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation and Associate Professor at the Jindal School of International Affairs. Urvashi has a Doctorate from the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Oxford

Vikrom Mathur

Vikrom believes that interdisciplinary research on cultural attitudes towards nature and technology need to inform contemporary debates on societal futures. His research interests include the governance of emerging technologies, social and cultural dimensions of technological transitions, cultural perceptions of environmental risk, dynamics between science and policy, and Cultural Theory. He is currently setting up India’s first Urban Living Lab in Panjim as a platform to design, test and fine-tune socio-technical innovation in local urban spaces. He has a PhD from the Institute of Science, Society, and Innovation at the University of Oxford.

Abishek Reddy

Abishek Reddy K is a Research Fellow at Tandem Research. His current work is focused on the technological  trajectories and social effects of  Artificial Intelligence. He is interested in understanding the relationship between technology, society and behaviour, and how they shape each other. He has a MSc(Hons) in Biological Sciences and BE(Hons) in Mechanical Engineering from Birla Institute of Technological Sciences, Pilani