Formation of an Inter-Ministerial Body for AI Regulation Advocated by Government Panel

In a progressive move towards the regulation of Artificial Intelligence (AI), a committee with representatives from various central ministries has put forward a recommendation for the establishment of an inter-ministerial regulatory body. This suggestion aligns with the comprehensive strategy for AI oversight, ensuring participation from all sectors of government, beyond the confines of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

According to sources familiar with the matter, the committee’s report, submitted to the government last month, emphasizes a “whole-of-government approach” for AI regulation. This approach demands active involvement from every ministry, according to an individual who preferred anonymity. The committee’s suggestions also include a significant provision for mandatory disclosure by companies in instances where an AI platform or model causes harm to users.

Illustrating the concept, the source highlighted, “Look at algorithmic trading and its regulation by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), which permits the use of proprietary technology unless a problem arises. Once there’s an issue, disclosure is mandatory. The committee’s stance on AI regulation mirrors this principle.”

Comprising representatives from the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Telecommunications, and Niti Aayog, alongside the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the committee is diverse and well-rounded. The informant also noted that the forthcoming Digital India Act is anticipated to include a specific chapter dedicated to AI and its regulations, among other futuristic technologies like quantum computing and blockchain.

The introduction of the Digital India Act to public consultations is expected to occur post the general elections, marking a significant step towards formalizing AI regulation in the nation.

Recent reports by Business Standard unveiled that the government initiated a case study across ministries, conducted by a specialized team of experts, to explore AI use cases under the nation’s AI mission. The aim is to enhance operational efficiency using AI, making processes quicker and more user-friendly, without compromising the ‘human touch’ in governmental procedures, as clarified by an official from the ministry.

In the interim, lacking a defined regulatory framework for AI, MeitY has been proactive in issuing advisories. These advisories call upon intermediaries and AI platforms to manage risks associated with AI use diligently and ensure models are free from biases that might adversely affect the interests of Indian users.

The government’s engagement doesn’t stop at national initiatives. It extends to global discussions concerning the safety and regulatory challenges posed by AI. At the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) summit held in New Delhi in December last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi underscored the necessity for a universal framework guiding AI usage.

During his address at the GPAI summit, PM Modi articulated the dual nature of AI; as a catalyst for development and a potential tool for destruction in the 21st century. Highlighting the risks associated with AI, such as deepfakes, cybersecurity threats, data theft, and the dire consequences of AI-enhanced weapons falling into terrorist hands, he called for a global consensus to mitigate AI misuse.

“Global security will face a significant threat from AI-laced weapons in terrorist hands. A joint effort is crucial to devise a plan that prevents AI misuse,” he urged, emphasizing the imperative need for collaborative action in the face of evolving AI challenges.

This strategic move towards establishing a dedicated regulatory framework for AI in India reflects an understanding of the technology’s vast potential and the complexities of safeguarding against its risks. It embodies the nation’s commitment to leading in the domain of AI governance on a global stage, ensuring that AI development aligns with the broader interests of humanity.

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