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OpenAI initiates India hiring to influence early regulation

ChatGPT developer OpenAI hired its first employee in India, appointing a government relations head just as the country votes in a new administration that will shape artificial intelligence regulations in the world’s most populous nation.

The Microsoft Corp. backed-company recruited Pragya Misra to lead public policy affairs and partnerships in India, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named as the appointment isn’t yet public. Misra, 39, previously worked at Truecaller AB and Meta Platforms Inc. and is set to start at OpenAI toward the end of the month.

The hiring highlights the generative-AI company’s efforts to push for favorable rules as governments around the world consider how to regulate the rapidly developing technology. India — with its 1.4 billion people and a fast-growing economy — is a massive growth opportunity for global tech companies, but it’s also proven a difficult one to navigate because of lawmakers and regulators seeking to ensure local firms don’t get trampled.

OpenAI representatives didn’t respond to requests for comment outside regular US office hours. Misra didn’t immediately respond to a LinkedIn message.

Misra previously headed public affairs at Stockholm-traded contact verification firm Truecaller, which counts India as a top market. Before that, she was at Meta Platforms Inc., where she led WhatsApp’s campaign against misinformation in 2018.

In India, OpenAI faces competition from the likes of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which is developing an AI model specifically for the country. Its product will be able to handle more than 100 local languages across speech and text, a drive that would widen internet access beyond the country’s urban English-speaking minority.

Countries such as India should support AI research in ways that can improve government services like health care, OpenAI Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman said during his visit to India last year.

“The main thing that I think is important is figuring out how to integrate these technologies into other services,” Altman said at the time. “That is an area that I think governments are behind on, and don’t have the answers yet.”

Altman, who met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the tour, also said that India was an early adopter of its generative-AI service ChatGPT.

Altman has previously called for more regulations and said his “greatest fear” is that the technology would cause significant harm. He has also said that big regulatory changes weren’t needed for current versions of the technology, but would be soon. Bloomberg

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