Expert Speak Digital Frontiers
Published on Jan 04, 2024

The GPAI and G20 can play a paramount role in the non-weaponisation of AI and related technologies, and in ensuring that developing countries get equal access to technology

AI governance outlook: A Global South perspective

With the proliferation of generative AI applications, large language models, and efforts to operationalise Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), there is a global race to govern these efforts and technologies. Policymakers across the democratic world are looking to secure the supply chain that powers these technologies, especially semiconductors and graphics processing units (GPUs). Under these global currents, India took the leadership of the Global Partnership of Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) and hosted the summit in New Delhi in December. In September 2023, India hosted the leaders’ summit of the G20 as well. The G20, as a grouping, is at the forefront of regulating and enforcing equitable standards for Artificial intelligence (AI) and other associated technologies. Both the G20 and GPAI summits culminated with a declaration to advance the vision of fostering safe, secure, and trustworthy AI, and of the collective responsibility of the members to deploy and develop sustainable AI technology and ensure their enduring impact. However, member states must cope with moral issues related to artificial intelligence. One pressing project is the digital divide associated with AI.

Both the G20 and GPAI summits culminated with a declaration to advance the vision of fostering safe, secure, and trustworthy AI, and of the collective responsibility of the members to deploy and develop sustainable AI technology and ensure their enduring impact.

An under-regulated path for AI and emerging technologies may bring diverse negative outcomes. These outcomes may lead to a rise in inequality, loss of privacy, and ethical transgressions. By contextualising this through understanding the history of the industrial revolutions that brought drastic changes in people's social and economic lives and prioritising moral concerns, the G20 and GPAI member states can reduce negative results that will arise without the right steering and regulation.

Despite the G20's significant influence and GPAI’s members’ technical expertise, many member states face issues with the digital divide, especially the unequal distribution of advanced technologies and their benefits. The divide deepens as AI development, mainly in developed markets, widens the gap between these countries and their developing counterparts in AI research and development (R&D). As per the AI Index Fund 2023, private investments in AI from 2013-22 in the United States (US) (US$250 billion) outpaces that of other economies including India, Japan, the United Kingdom (UK) and most of the other G20 nations. The unequal access to AI R&D is likely to have extreme outcomes for underdeveloped nations, along with economic threats, political instability, and compromised sovereignty.

This ought to lead to advanced countries gaining a significant edge in the use of AI for military and financial goals, potentially disrupting the global balance of power. The financial boom of developing nations can be negatively impacted with the aid of AI-precipitated financial disparity, doubtlessly resulting in instability and political conflict. With the increasing integration of AI into military domains, the technology asymmetry may jeopardise the security and sovereignty of nations with limited AI capabilities. Imparting AI for societal betterment, rather than for geopolitical dominance, is now urgent.

Despite the G20's significant influence and GPAI’s members’ technical expertise, many member states face issues with the digital divide, especially the unequal distribution of advanced technologies and their benefits.

The GPAI and G20 groupings, with their diverse membership and economic clout, have a unique perspective to tackle the challenges of AI and emerging technologies. By advocating for fair and equal access to AI and responsible technology advancement, the respective member states can help narrow the digital divide and ensure that AI benefits all countries, rather than being exploited for geopolitical gains or weaponisation.

In today's world, where AI and related technologies are becoming a new norm in the advancement of existing developments, it is important to ensure that Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) get fair access to such technologies, thereby allowing them a level playing field. The G20 can promote AI to advance humanity's interests while ensuring the stability, security, and sovereignty of developing countries. The strategic direction set by the New Delhi G20 Leaders' Declaration and New Delhi GPAI Declaration, the Framework for Systems of Digital Public Infrastructure, the Global Digital Public Infrastructure Repository (GDPIR), and the voluntary initiative One Future Alliance (OFA) are important steps to make deployment of emerging technologies and AI for common good. These initiatives would help promote digital public infrastructure growth, particularly in LMICs with emerging technologies. The G20’s Data Gaps Initiative 3 (DGI-3) would aid the developing nations to model their AI models with easily accessible open data sets in domains like climate change; household distributional information; Fintech and financial inclusion; and access to private sources of data and administrative data, and data sharing.

Data for Development: Privacy, accessibility, and inclusion

AI datasets and models require large amounts of data. Data privacy and security are critical aspects that need to be considered in the realm of AI-driven models. Open availability of data sets is the primary requirement for developing new-age AI and LLM models, like the DGI-3 model adopted by the G20 nations. In India, the Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) strategy aims to create and use open data sets by deploying AI to improve public services and make governmental operations more efficient and effective. The DPI paradigm, led by India, offers an excellent framework for this purpose.

The Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) strategy aims to create and use open data sets by deploying AI to improve public services and make governmental operations more efficient and effective.

India's strategy involves implementing DPI through open application programmable interfaces (APIs) or stacks, through public-private partnerships and collaborative initiatives that bring together non-profit organisations, the private sector, and governments. By pooling knowledge and resources, this collaborative strategy effectively tackles the digital divide and enhances the innovation ecosystem as the cost of acquiring new customers significantly reduces due to open innovation amongst industry stakeholders. This recognition in the G20 New Delhi Leaders' Declaration emphasises the importance of data in driving progress and innovation across sectors. In the age of transformative advancements, member states must prioritise regulations on data privacy and security. Recognising that users' data is fundamental to these advancements, strong measures are necessary.

With the concerns of privacy, an important element of the DPI strategy is inclusion and accessibility. In today's digital era, accessibility is crucial. The DPI strategy has diversified data-gathering processes that integrate accessibility into the design process from the beginning, making implementation easier and more cost-effective. By offering incentives like tax breaks or grants to companies and governments that prioritise accessibility, we can encourage inclusivity and make sure accessibility is a fundamental aspect of the design process by creating voice- and chat-based digital services to empower more users and remove barriers. Accessibility goes beyond just adapting tools. This involves creating innovative digital services that make use of voice and chat technologies in native languages; thereby forever changing the way people interact with technology.

The DPI strategy has diversified data-gathering processes that integrate accessibility into the design process from the beginning, making implementation easier and more cost-effective.

These elements are important in ensuring that everyone can benefit from data while protecting their privacy rights. In India, there is an effort to integrate the DPI strategy with new-age AI technologies. An enabling environment is envisioned by developing the National Data and Analytics Platform (NDAP), India Datasets programme, National Data Governance Framework Policy, and the Digital Personal Data Protection Act to provide low-cost data sets and APIs to build digital public goods and provide the access to these goods affordably and securely to small businesses, startups, and civil society organisations to build their own AI engines and tools to cater to their consumers’ needs.

Regulations are vital for safeguarding individuals from data breaches and cyber threats, particularly for major search engines and social media platforms. At times, attacks through the weaponisation of AI require additional safeguarding methods, especially when it comes to the protection of vulnerable populations, as they are already subjected to marginalisation.

In conclusion, the roles of GPAI and G20 are paramount in addressing the non-weaponisation of AI and related technologies, and in ensuring equal access to technology. As technology evolves, DPI strategy, data privacy, global cooperation, and collaboration become more and more essential to ensure that AI is used for the common good. Through the emphasis on ethical principles that safeguard global security and complement transparency, accountability, and responsible decision-making, the member states can shape the future in which AI enriches the lives of the people.


Arvind Gupta is the head, Digital India Foundation.  

Aakash Guglani is the Policy Manager, Digital India Foundation. 

Vibhanshu Ahluwalia is an AI researcher.

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Authors

Arvind Gupta

Arvind Gupta

Arvind Gupta is Head Digital India Foundation and adjunct professor at IIT-BHU.

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Aakash Guglani

Aakash Guglani

Aakash Guglani is the Policy Manager, Digital India Foundation. ...

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Vibhanshu Ahluwalia

Vibhanshu Ahluwalia

Vibhanshu Ahluwalia is an AI researcher. ...

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