India And AI: A Cautionary Tale


India, where people hardly know how to use the internet properly, needs to be smart in handling artificial intelligence

When most people hear AI, they would always picture robots gobbling up mankind through their prowess

Cybercrime is constantly on the rise and online frauds are a daily phenomenon

Hardly a month back, when United States of America (USA) President Joe Biden met with top entrepreneurs to discuss the negative implications that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can have on the world, I realised that this is a serious issue and needs urgent attention. 

The meeting was an effort to take significant steps to promote responsible innovation. Ever since the advent of AI, it has ambushed the lives of mankind and humans are at their wit’s end. 

Are the people of India ready for this infamous technology that has the entire world walking on eggshells? 

Artificial Intelligence Requires Real Digital Literacy 

India, however modern and progressive, still lacks the adaptability required to revert should things go south. Almost every citizen of India might have a smartphone in their hands, but they hardly have anything to do with its features related to surfing, security, and stability. 

Most opt for a smartphone just for the sake of their entertainment and use the internet accordingly, without realising their data can easily be compromised. Having access to the newest inventions does not mean people are in the know of things. 

Cybercrime is constantly on the rise. Online frauds are a daily phenomenon. Netflix series Jamtara encapsulates all the problems related to digital literacy that Indians face. 

There are many who are gullible to fall into the simplest of honey traps without any concern for their security– financial or physical. Between the completely literate and completely unlettered, there are a lot of people who fall into the trap. Because they are advanced enough to use technology but don’t have enough knowledge to use it judiciously. 

India sure has access, but it doesn’t have knowledge. And in such a country where people have limited knowledge of using technology in the way that it was intended, artificial intelligence poses a bigger threat to humans than ever before.

To simplify AI, it means the simulation of human intelligence through software codes. It is derived from the concept that the human mind and its intelligence are defined in a way that a machine can imitate and execute tasks. 

That is the ultimate goal. 

There is another term called machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence. It is a concept wherein computers or systems can automatically learn from and adapt to new data without being looked after by humans. This is where things start getting messier. 

The Education And Employment Conundrum

There is not enough education on technology among Indians. When most people hear AI, they would always picture robots gobbling up mankind through their prowess. They take it as mere equipment that will listen to us and respond with fun answers thinking that the machines have gotten smarter. 

But in reality, they are being watched and their behaviours are sensed by the very machine. Lack of education in general among people leads them to forego its consequences. 

Moreover, India is already reeling from unemployment. The introduction and induction of AI in India will further hamper the phenomenon and fracture the economy on a big scale. 

People will rebel and revolt not against technology but their respective governments. Technology doesn’t have the sensitivity (or does it?) to gauge public sentiments, but the government can ensure that its application is not done at the cost of mankind. It should not create a social divide and conflicts that can lead to a breakdown. 

World over, people are cautioning against AI precisely for this reason. Technology is not a competition to humans, but it can rupture democracy and create difficulties in trusting another human being for any work. 

World Wary 

World leaders, entrepreneurs, and former technology moguls are wary of the technology and have cautioned the world of its ill effects. 

Recently, Biden used the words that AI can be “dangerous” and its effects on society are yet to unravel.” It is important to note that ChatGPT, an AI chatbot, is a product of the USA which is one of the premier instruments responsible for instilling fear into the minds of the world. 

Geoffrey Hinton, a scientist among the founders of AI, said artificial intelligence could pose a “more urgent” threat to humanity than climate change. Hinton quit tech giant Google to raise awareness about the dangers of the technology. He has warned that the rapid introduction of Artificial technology can prove to be “very dangerous” for society and humanity. 

Word Of Caution

We have already seen the side effects of technology in smashing hits such as Black Mirror and The Social Dilemma. There are ample books that have already shared the grim picture that may potentially lie ahead of us. 

The thing is though, as much as India may have understood the gravity of the situation through these pathbreaking, eye-opening docu-dramas, cinemas, and books, we are not ready for something like artificial intelligence. One simple reason is that people are equating smartness with intelligence. 

The world and its people are smart for sure, but intelligence is found few and far between. The idea of technology is the same, the way of using it changes and that requires smartness or, in the Indian lexicon, ‘jugaad’. 

New ideas are not propping up. It is probably due to the same reason that a group of scientists that studied AI, and human minds as well, concluded, “We are now creating machines that are more sharp and powerful than ourselves.”

Note: The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views held by Inc42, its creators or employees. Inc42 is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest bloggers.

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