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Responsible and ethical AI


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- AI governance

The article highlights the challenges and opportunities offered by the Artificial Intelligence and suggests the ways to deal with them.

AI as a part of our life

  • AI is embedded in the recommendations we get on our favourite streaming or shopping site; in GPS mapping technology; in the predictive text that completes our sentences when we try to send an email or complete a web search.
  • And the more we use AI, the more data we generate, the smarter it gets.
  • In just the last decade, AI has evolved with unprecedented velocity.

How AI could help us

  • AI has helped increase crop yields, raised business productivity, improved access to credit and made cancer detection faster and more precise.
  • It could contribute more than $15 trillion to the world economy by 2030, adding 14% to global GDP.
  • Google has identified over 2,600 use cases of “AI for good” worldwide.
  • A study published in Nature reviewing the impact of AI on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) finds that AI may act as an enabler on 134 of all SDG targets.

Concerns with AI

  • Yet, the study in Nature also finds that AI can actively hinder 59 — or 35% — of SDG targets.
  • AI requires massive computational capacity, which means more power-hungry data centres — and a big carbon footprint.
  • AI could compound digital exclusion.
  • Many desk jobs will be edged out by AI, such as accountants, financial traders and middle managers.
  • Without clear policies on reskilling workers, the promise of new opportunities will in fact create serious new inequalities.
  • Investment is likely to shift to countries where AI-related work is already established widening gaps among and within countries.
  • AI also presents serious data privacy concerns. 
  • We shape the algorithms and it is our data AI operate on.
  • In 2016, it took less than a day for Microsoft’s Twitter chatbot, “Tay”, to start spewing egregious racist content, based on the material it encountered.

Way forward

  • Without ethical guard rails, AI will widen social and economic schisms, amplifying any innate biases.
  • Only a “whole of society” approach to AI governance will enable us to develop broad-based ethical principles, cultures and codes of conduct.
  • Given the global reach of AI, such a “whole of society” approach must rest on a “whole of world” approach.
  • The UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap on Digital Cooperation is a good starting point.
  • This approach lays out the need for multi-stakeholder efforts on global cooperation.
  • UNESCO has developed a global, comprehensive standard-setting draft Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence to Member States for deliberation and adoption.
  • Many countries, including India, are cognisant of the opportunities and the risks, and are striving to strike the right balance between AI promotion and AI governance.
  • NITI Aayog’s Responsible AI for All strategy, the culmination of a year-long consultative process, is a case in point.

Consider the question “What are the ways in which Artificial Intelligence in helping humanity? What are the concerns with the promotion and the governance of AI?”


Chellenging part starts where principles meet reality that the ethical issues and conundrums arise in practice, and for which we must be prepared for deep, difficult, multi-stakeholder ethical reflection, analyses and resolve. Only then will AI provide humanity its full promise.

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