“AI is one of the most profound things we’ve working on as humanity, it is more profound than fire or electricity.” – Google CEO, Sundar Pichai
AI can be described as a machine projecting human-like intelligence. Apart from learning from data fed into its system, it also learns from experience through trial and error i.e., Machine learning. Countries like India, South Africa etc. with their diverse societies provides a perfect model for machine learning.
Often deemed as the fourth revolution AI cannot be obstructed by sceptical thinking. In 2017 Vladimir Putin, Russian president while interacting with students stated that the nation which leads in AI will rule the world. Recently I read Rajiv Malhotra’s book “Artificial Intelligence and Future of Power:5 Battlegrounds ” to enhance my knowledge about Implications of AI and progress made by several countries concerning this technology.
AI is believed to have a major impact in healthcare, education, finance, military, transportation, Agriculture etc. for e.g., Drones are been developed to be used in warfare instead of human soldiers. Highly advanced drones will be used to shoot and kill specific group of people with their DNA been provided as targets.
While it is widely accepted that AI will be able to provide pragmatic solutions, it has been widely underestimated in terms of the aesthetic value it can give. The aesthetics include areas of human psychology, beauty, art etc. AI has been found to be extremely successful in mimicking human sensibilities such that it is extremely difficult for common man to distinguish between AI conceptualized paintings and music and the human ones.
The areas of Emotional creativity and inventions which were previously deemed as AI free is currently witnessing the arrival of AI in its domain.
Another key area where it will create a major disruption are jobs. Since with advancement in AI, less and less humans will be required in low level and other sectors which will lead to their job loss. Since it will also create new jobs, the major concerns are whether the job created will be more, less or equal to job losses, the nature of he newly created jobs ( which is believed to be more appropriate for higher level educated society.) and will they be able to adapt to new tech.
Previously the pace of automation was slower and workers could adapt through re-training and education.His subsequent were well versed with new advancement and therefore received a higher standard of living but now the pace of this advancement will be faster i.e.. Not exceeding for one generation’s lifetime, disruptions are expected to have severe economic impacts pushing down millions below poverty line.
Two of the major global powers the USA and China are leading the race for Artificial Intelligence and are atleast a decade ahead from India and other third world countries. One of the major contributors of China’s rising status as super power has been AI which it has used to level up its economic and military power. For e.g., it is estimated that by 2030 that China will have around two lakh AI soldiers on Indo-China border. It has also used this tech for surveillance and social engineering of its mainland society and other parts in its jurisdiction such as Hong Kong.
The USA is extensively using AI in its healthcare and business ecosystem. One of the most striking examples of this is Facebook’s Metaverse. In healthcare AI is used to develop cures for various bodily disorders and diseases primarily the psychological ones such as Bipolar Personality Disorder and Depression. Brain microchips are also in development to amplify mental capacities of humans or to release certain happy chemicals for pleasure seeking masses; along with this the ubiquitous ambition of Mars colonisation is also underway.
In India, several initiatives have been taken for AI adoption across the country. Andhra Pradesh government has partnered with Microsoft co. to train 1.62 crore students in AI. The government of India initiated the Smart City Mission in 2015 has currently envisioned AI based Smart homes, Automated pavement lightening, park maintenance, crowd management system etc. although the Government seems to have ambitious plans in this field, sadly the approach is short-term with no broad vision.
For instance, almost all the initiatives of GoI are either partnered with US tech companies or dependent on foreign imported technology. There has been no large-scale investment on indigenous AI technology and research centres. Big companies like Reliance which despite having resources to develop cloud computing technology has instead resorted to using Google cloud to upscale its 5G plans and profit margins.
Such ignorant policies and decisions by top Indian leaders and technocrats will have grievous effects on our country’s social, economic and moral structure. This might also create socio-ethical problems in near future as
• Firstly, foreign owned AI works on a certain set of principles which guides its decision making e.g., Chinese AI works on Chinese principles while US AI works on Western universalism (though even countries like the USA is facing ethical issues over AI which is currently been accused of racism and hijacking people mind which is dumbing down the masses). Principles advantageous for one society might be catastrophic for another.
• Secondly, foreign ownership of unrestricted domestic data will make people vulnerable to social unrest as this data might be used and traded to dangerous nexuses. Such parties using mediums like social media will hack people’s minds to influence their ideology akin to those of disruptive forces or incite communities into violent and illegal actions. Along with this, AI will create new haves and have-nots and is estimated to push more than five million people below poverty line which will aggravate economic hierarchy of the society.
• For instance, allowing Visa and Mastercard in the Indian market has made the citizens vulnerable to foreign entities as all the financial data of the Indian masses are available to them and can be used by their people to lure, blackmail or force our people into conversion, localised riots and doing anti Indian work. It also damages the indigenous financial ecosystem and stability.
AI, therefore, is a double-edge sword which needs to be dealt with caution. To make AI more human-centric and ethical, India should invest heavily in indigenous AI ecosystems like China and create an AI Centre of the scale of ISRO and BARC so that the systems are modelled on Indian principles of society and morality.Data Protection Laws should be formulated and enforced to protect local data and make AI responsible. Lastly NGOs, sociologists and Indian public researchers should study the implications of AI on Indian individuals and communities. They should partner with schools and colleges to educate and raise awareness among teachers and students about the same by conducting workshops and seminars.