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Business News/ Ai / Artificial Intelligence/  India well positioned to leap ahead of developed worlds with AI: Sundar Pichai
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India well positioned to leap ahead of developed worlds with AI: Sundar Pichai

Pichai said Google is committed to bringing AI tools to India in line with global markets, emphasizing that the future of AI will require more involvement from social scientists and philosophers

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at a Google I/O event in Mountain View, California. (AP Photo)Premium
Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at a Google I/O event in Mountain View, California. (AP Photo)

Mountain View, California: India's potential to shape the future of artificial intelligence (AI) is significant, with the country “well positioned" to influence global AI development, said Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google and Alphabet, at a roundtable during Google’s annual conference, Google I/O.

“For India and other emerging countries, technology shifts are opportunities to catch up or leap ahead," Pichai said. 

India was unlikely to match developed countries in personal computing penetration, but in mobile adoption, more people gained access than in previous generations, Pichai elaborated. 

Many people skipped landlines and went straight to cellular phones. With each technology shift, there's a chance to increase penetration. This is also true with AI, he said.

More Here | Honey I shrunk AI: the latest in tech takeover

On Tuesday, Pichai led a Google keynote outlining the company's AI strategy for the coming year. 

Analysts note that Google’s push for AI adoption is driven by its efforts to attract more developers to its Gemini-driven AI ecosystem, competing with Meta, Microsoft, and OpenAI.

Pichai told Mint that the company attracts a sizeable developer base from the country.

“India is the number one geography for a lot of our products in terms of our user base. To serve them, we’re very committed to bringing these same AI tools as globally. We see a lot of developer activity from India on top of our AI platforms already. I think this will be an exciting moment, and India will be well positioned as the shift to AI happens," he said. 

Pichai's observations are accurate. For example, YouTube’s largest user base is in India, with an estimated 480 million monthly active users.

However, this also places increasing responsibilities on Google, particularly regarding deepfakes and misinformation on platforms like YouTube.

Addressing this, Pichai emphasized that Google has made election integrity a top priority. 

“Our work is particularly applicable in products like Search and YouTube, and as we deploy AI, part of the reason why we’re working on products like SynthID and AI-assisted red teaming is to stay ahead of these problems," Pichai highlighted.

“We undertake a lot of research through initiatives like Project Jigsaw as well. For the first time, we’re understanding patterns in the world, and reporting on them. We also share information where appropriate with the right governments as well."

India’s seven-phase general elections, which began on 19 April, have already seen multiple deepfake incidents. In April, home minister Amit Shah and actors Aamir Khan and Ranveer Singh filed reports about deepfakes falsely portraying them endorsing political agendas. 

On 6 May, the Election Commission of India issued a notice to all political parties, highlighting Indian Penal Code clauses applicable for spreading deepfakes and requiring removal of such content within three hours of notification.

Read Here: Tweaking political content with AI? Govt, Big Tech are watching

Google has promoted its SynthID tool to watermark content to prevent AI-based manipulation and is part of the US-based Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA), which aims to develop tools to identify AI content across platforms like Meta’s Instagram and Google’s YouTube.

Despite the challenges, Pichai remains optimistic. 

“Given the pace of the technology’s progress, we’ve all been worried about deepfakes. So far, we’re fortunate at least in this year that as a society, we’re able to still easily adjudicate what is real and what isn’t. In combination with all the work we are doing, I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll be able to do our part and handle all of it well. The stakes will get higher this year, but for now, I’m cautiously optimistic of where we are," he said.

Pichai stressed to Mint the need for diverse professional involvement, beyond engineers, in AI solutions. 

“I’ve always felt that as we make more progress with AI, we have to bring in more perspectives into the field. I don’t know how engineers alone would answer many questions—I think AI is something where we need to involve social scientists, philosophers and others in the field. As we think of responsible AI, we’ve always done that," he said.

Read This | Gemini v GPT: India under sharp focus as Google woos developers

Korak Kavukcuoglu, chief technology officer of Google’s AI subdivision DeepMind, added that the involvement of professionals beyond technology is intrinsic to the evolution of the technology itself. 

“If you look at our first large language model paper, we did it by analysing the ethics of it. There, we worked with philosophers and ethicists. Trying to understand how AI can impact society is quite important for us, so that we can understand what are the right problems to solve, and the right solutions to bring in," he said.

The author is in Mountain View, California to cover Google I/O 2024, on Google's invitation.

Also Read | India playing key role in AI development, adoption: Microsoft's Puneet Chandok

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shouvik Das
Shouvik Das is a science, space and technology reporter for Mint and TechCircle. In his previous stints, he worked at publications such as CNN-News18 and Outlook Business. He has also reported on consumer technology and the automobile sector.
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Published: 16 May 2024, 07:53 AM IST
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