India has a unique vantage position on how AI could play out: UN Tech Envoy Amandeep Singh Gill


The 2023 GPAI Summit, bringing together diverse stakeholders, including Gill, represents a crucial milestone in shaping a global AI landscape that is inclusive and responsible

The successful establishment of India’s digital public infrastructure is highlighted as evidence of the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Global South, as noted by UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, Amandeep Singh Gill.

In an interview with PTI, Gill emphasized India’s unique vantage position, stating, “India has a distinctive perspective on how AI could unfold in the Global South.” He underscored the country’s achievements in building a robust digital foundation, encompassing digital identity, payment systems, and the development of data flow and management platforms.

Gill advocated for India to assume a leadership role in promoting responsible AI applications, particularly in addressing challenges faced by developing nations, such as financial inclusion and providing last-mile access to essential health and education programs. He also highlighted the potential for India to nurture a digital economy with ample job opportunities for its burgeoning youth population.

The UN envoy stressed the significance of India’s collaboration with other Global South nations like Indonesia, Brazil, Kenya, and South Africa, emphasizing their collective importance in the AI landscape despite not possessing the vast data resources or economic prowess akin to China or the US.

Gill, previously India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, assumed his role as the UN Envoy on Technology last year, entrusted by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. His extensive background includes leading the International Digital Health and Artificial Intelligence Research Collaborative (I-DAIR) project.

He further noted the pivotal role of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), particularly its recent summit in Delhi, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Gill highlighted this event as an integral platform, critical both technologically and from a political and policy standpoint.

Expressing the necessity for broader participation in AI initiatives, Gill emphasized the importance of Global South’s involvement in governance frameworks. He highlighted the need for inclusive engagement in AI governance, stressing that its impact, both positive and concerning, requires the involvement of all humanity.

Beyond technological advancements, Gill underscored the imperative to preserve cultural diversity and uphold values such as democracy and human rights in AI development. He cautioned against the potential misuse of AI for mass surveillance and emphasized India’s experience in addressing these challenges, which holds global significance.

“The lacuna in many of the AI-related initiatives today is that they are coming from a small group of countries and largely from the Global North, and it’s important to enlarge the scope of participation to be more inclusive,” he said.

Addressing the risks and challenges posed by AI, including misinformation and changes in the labour market, Gill emphasized the crucial need for comprehensive assessments backed by scientific evidence. He advocated for UN engagement in conducting risk assessments, leveraging global expertise to ensure ethical AI development.

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