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Confident India will be the leader in 4th Industrial Revolution, AI to play a massive role: PM Modi to Bill Gates

In a conversation with Bill Gates over India’s tech-led revolution, PM Modi told Bill Gates how India missed out on developing as a nation during the first and second industrial revolutions because of British colonization. However, PM Modi believes the country will make up for it in the fourth industrial revolution.

“Historically, we lagged during the first and second industrial revolutions because we were a colony. The digital element is at its core amid a fourth industrial revolution. I am confident that India will gain a lot from this,” the PM said, adding that India has the potential to lead the fourth revolution.

PM Modi explained how India has leveraged AI in various aspects of governance and society. He cited examples from the 2023 G20 Summit and initiatives like the NaMo App. PM Modi also noted how he has used AI in the G20 summit to translate his speeches and addresses across different languages. “A technology like ChatGPT should be used to improve oneself constantly,” he said.

Gates commended India’s digital public infrastructure, which keeps improving and getting richer. “A lot of people know about the identity (Aadhar) and digital payment systems (UPI). The government has virtually taken all payment programs and digitized them. That alone saved a lot of money while creating access. In the second phase, India moved into different aspects, like helping farmers through easy access to advice and knowledge, health records, and tutoring kids,” he said. “Now, we are at a junction where the advancements in AI, on top of all this, will make the value even better.”

‘Aai’ and ‘AI’ intrinsic in India
On a lighter note, PM Modi told Bill Gates how AI is intrinsic to India, to the extent that even newborn children are all into AI. “Sometimes, I jokingly say that in our country, we call our mother ‘Aai.’ Now I say that when a child is born, he says ‘Aai’ and AI as children have become so advanced.”

He added, “Using Al as a magic tool may lead to a grave injustice. If Al is relied on out of laziness…then it is the wrong path. I should have a competition with ChatGPT and strive to go ahead of AI…”

Not all hunky-dory when it comes to AI
During their conversation, both leaders also discussed the pitfalls and shortcomings of AI. “Microsoft is celebrating 25 years in India, so while addressing the team here (in Hyderabad), I challenged the team to increase the accuracy of our AI models. Copilot, for example, suggests things, but the final decision is still ours to review.”

Gates then asked, “AI is a huge opportunity but there are a few challenges. How does India plan to approach that?” PM Modi also recognized that all is not hunky-dory regarding AI. For example, Deepfakes and misinformation are massive challenges the world faces. The PM also proposed measures to mitigate its negative impact. “If such a good thing (AI) is given to someone without proper training, it is likely to be misused,” he said.

“We should start with clear watermarks on AI-generated content so that nobody is misguided. In a democratic country like India, anybody can use deepfake. It’s crucial to acknowledge that deepfake content is AI-generated. We need to think about some dos and don’ts,” the PM said,

Bill Gates also acknowledged the challenges associated with AI but expressed optimism about its potential for positive impact. He said, “These are early days in AI…It will do things that you think are hard and then fail to do something you think is easy. It seems like AI is a huge opportunity, but a few challenges come with it.”

Data and privacy.

Data and privacy are significant issues; the leaders, Gates and PM Modi, recognize that. “In today’s AI world, data is so important. People have privacy concerns. How do we balance that?” asked Gates.

“Data security is a paramount concern,” said the Prime Minister. “And while India has a legal framework in place, public awareness is equally important,” the PM added.

He then gave the example of how Digilocker has been a game-changer in India. “Universities are now storing certificates and degrees in the cloud, which is cost-effective and efficient. Moreover, earlier, there was a push for stringent compliance requirements. We advocated simplification, suggesting that data be uploaded to the cloud with shared IDs to enable us to access necessary information directly.”

The PM also revealed that while technology was previously an enabler for services, it is now a great way to improve the ease of life for Indian citizens.

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