Centre for Digitalisation, AI and Society
The scale and scope of digitalisation and use of AI in public life in India are unmatched in the world, especially in large public service applications. The use of such technologies are not only restricted to the Government but are growing rapidly in the private sector as well. This provides us with a unique opportunity to generate new interdisciplinary research questions around their efficacy, and the considerations for safe, secure and ethical design and deployment of such technologies.
While the potential for such digitalisation and AI applications for public good is unquestionable, they do raise some serious social, ethical and legal questions whose mitigation and compliance with regulation pose new challenges. In fact, such systems have been difficult to operationalise anywhere in the world. Many attempts at building large public services like national identity systems, health registries, national population and voter registries, public credit registries, income and tax registries etc. have often been questioned on fairness, privacy and other ethical grounds. The concerns have invariably been related to the need for protective safeguards when large data integration projects are contemplated, and acknowledgment of the bias, exclusion, discrimination, privacy and security problems that these could create. In some situations they have even had to be abandoned altogether as they were unable to deal with these risks.
This provides a unique opportunity for Ashoka University – with its multidisciplinary focus – to lead the enquiry around these questions. Specifically, the Centre for Digitalisation, AI and Society at Ashoka proposes to research and identify the key considerations for thinking about such systems, and risk mitigation strategies for deployment of such digital systems in public life.