US executive order on regulating AI is a balancing approach: Experts

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The recent US order on AI regulation is an attempt to create a balance between innovation and citizen interests, and India can learn from it, experts say. The order has reignited the debate on regulating emerging technologies around the world, including in India.


“The US system likes to balance both the innovation aspects, and at the same time protect consumer welfare, which is basically ensuring there’s safety, there is no privacy concern, and there is no bias. So, I guess one of the major key takeaways from there could be how to actually go about doing a balanced approach,” said Kamesh Shekar, senior programme manager at The Dialogue.


The executive order signed by US President Joe Biden directs federal agencies to set new safety standards for artificial intelligence systems and requires developers to share their safety test results along with other critical information with the US government.


The regulation also requires AI developers to share safety test results with the US government. Further, the National Institute of Artificial Intelligence is tasked with creating safeguards around the secure use of artificial intelligence.


India has been witnessing rapid growth in AI adoption across sectors, and there has been continuous work on AI regulations. “There were a series of papers, which actually put forth some principles for the possible use of emerging technologies, including a National Strategy on AI by Niti Aayog,” says Shekar.


In the past, Niti Aayog’s National Strategy for AI talked about creating sectoral regulatory frameworks to tackle specific AI issues, to the likes of countries like Germany and Japan. The document states, “Apart from having a central privacy protection law, due to the diverse and fast-changing nature of the technology, sectoral regulatory frameworks may also act as additional protection to user privacy and security.”


Earlier this month, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology revealed the first edition of the India AI report, which made some recommendations around the regulation of emerging technologies.


Talking about the report, Amol Kulkarni, director (Research) at CUTS International, says, “A lot of these recommendations from the India AI report are quite technical in nature and they also lay a forward-looking path in terms of how we could develop AI and make India an economy which can benefit from the potential of AI.”


“I think, when it comes to regulating or developing codes or frameworks around such an evolving sector, there is a need for more consultation, a more evidence-based approach and a more bottom-up approach,” he added.


Experts believe that India, being a developing nation, is uniquely positioned to regulate AI. The government should go for a more holistic approach rather than following the risk-based approach in EU or US regulation blindly, they say.


“I think India is in a very unique kind of situation and therefore, every decision with respect to AI governance, the purpose for which AI needs to be used, what should be the use cases, etc., need to be very carefully thought through and in consultation with the citizens and consumers. Citizens would need to be empowered and to better understand how their data is being utilised and they need to be empowered to have their grievances redressed,” said Kulkarni.

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