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India needs its own blueprint for AI development

Three leading professionals—Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu, former Vice chairman of NITI Aayog; Rajiv Kumar, Chairman of Pahle India Foundation; and Sharad Sharma, Co-founder of iSPIRT Foundation have written to the government, deeply concerned on how AI could put millions of jobs at risk almost overnight.

They write, “We are fully aware that for a developing country like India, application of AI in various fields provides an opportunity to pole-vault the traditional, linear growth paths. Deploying advanced technologies optimally and strategically can create a potent mix of resources and infrastructure that can yield more equitable and more sustainable growth. For a remarkably young country like India, with a median age of 29, AI offers a huge opportunity to raise labour productivity, build a knowledge society and further enhance our demographic dividend.

At the same time, it is also clear that AI could put millions of jobs at risk almost overnight. The dizzying pace of the ongoing digital revolution has meant that AI is inveigling itself into the economic, psychosocial, and cultural aspects of human life at an unprecedented speed. The downstream effects of adopting technologies such as AI without essential due diligence and appropriate safeguards can cause unprecedented disruption of the existing social order.

We know that technological progress is inexorable and overall beneficial. Yet we have to manage it carefully to avoid unmanageable socio-economic disruptions at scale.

We urge stakeholders like IT researchers, policymakers, academicians in other disciplines, industry leaders, and members of the civil society to join this vital debate that will help evolve a national consensus on how best to utilise this powerful technology for achieving our national goals and meeting the exploding aspirations of our young population,” the letter said.

CT Bureau

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