UNESCO and MeitY Organise National Workshop on AI Ethics in New Delhi

New Delhi, [India], June 5 : The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) South Asia Regional Office, in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), hosted a National Stakeholder Workshop on Safe, Trusted, and Ethical AI in New Delhi. This pivotal event comes on the heels of the government’s recent approval of the IndiaAI Mission, with a significant allocation of over Rs 10,000 crore.

The workshop provided a platform for critical discussions aimed at integrating safe, trusted, and ethical AI considerations into national and state-level AI strategies and programs. The event saw the participation of senior officials from various central ministries, state governments, NITI Aayog, and industry partners such as NASSCOM.

The inaugural session featured distinguished dignitaries, including Prof Ajay Kumar Sood, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India; Abhishek Singh, Additional Secretary, MeitY; Tim Curtis, Director, UNESCO South Asia Regional Office; and Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences.

Also in attendance were Debjani Ghosh, President NASSCOM; Prakash Kumar, CEO of the Wadhwani Centre for Government Digital Transformation; James Wright, Programme Specialist in the Section for Bioethics and the Ethics of Science and Technology at UNESCO Headquarters; Joe Hironaka, Regional Advisor for Communication and Information at UNESCO Regional Office, Bangkok; Jian Xi Teng, Programme Specialist in Education at UNESCO South Asia Regional Office; and Eunsong Kim, Programme Specialist at UNESCO South Asia Regional Office.

In his inaugural address, Prof Ajay Kumar Sood highlighted the importance of ethical AI, emphasizing India’s balanced approach. “AI raises concerns on ethics and its societal implications. India aims to adopt a balanced approach on AI, launching several initiatives, including the IndiaAI Mission, to foster the development and adoption of AI. Globally, UNESCO has played a commendable role in promoting the ethics of AI, with UNESCO Member States supporting the UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of AI being a great example,” he said.

Abhishek Singh, Additional Secretary, MeitY, underscored the significance of defining ethics in terms of safety and trust. “When it comes to the use of the word ethics, we prefer to define it in terms of building a safe and trusted AI which will not result in user harm; which will ensure a framework that promotes innovation while restricting the risks associated with AI,” he stated.

The potential impact of AI on India’s economy was also a focal point. AI is expected to contribute nearly USD 500 billion to India’s GDP by 2025, driven by advancements in sectors such as healthcare, financial services, and telecommunications.

Tim Curtis, UNESCO Representative to India and Director of the UNESCO South Asia Regional Office, emphasized AI’s potential and the associated risks. “AI has immense potential to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, it also poses significant ethical and practical risks if deployed without proper frameworks ensuring ethical development and use. UNESCO aims to support the Indian government in integrating ethical considerations into national and state-level AI strategies and programs, ensuring that the deployment of AI technologies aligns with international norms and standards outlined in the UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence,” he remarked.

The workshop fostered extensive dialogue on the concepts of safe and trusted AI, its ethical implications, and the societal impact of AI technologies through various panel discussions, reinforcing the commitment to ethical AI development in India.

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