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 Aneja is Founding Director of Tandem Research. She works on the governance and sociology of emerging technology; southern partnerships for humanitarian and development assistance; and the power and politics of global civil society. Urvashi is also Associate Fellow at Chatham House and a columnist for the Indian Express. She has a PhD from the Department of Politics & International Relations, University of Oxford. Previously, she was Associate Professor of International Relations at the OP Jindal Global University and Research Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation.

Vikrom Mathur

Vikrom is an anthropologist of science and technology. His diverse research interests include the governance of emerging technologies, social and cultural dimensions of technological transitions, political and social contingencies on the production of scientific knowledge about Nature, cultural perceptions of environmental risk, dynamics between science and policy, and Cultural Theory. He has a PhD from the Institute of Science, Society, and Innovation at the University of Oxford. Vikrom is a Senior Fellow of the Observer Research Foundation & Associate Fellow of the Stockholm Environment Institute.

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