HomeArtificial IntelligenceIndia is changing its AI stance and requiring government approval for model...

India is changing its AI stance and requiring government approval for model launches

India has waded into the worldwide AI debate by issuing an advisory requiring “significant” tech firms to hunt government approval before launching latest models.

India's Ministry of Electronics and IT issued the advisory to firms on Friday. The notice — which shouldn’t be publicly available but a replica was reviewed by TechCrunch — also calls on tech firms to make sure that their services or products “don’t permit bias or discrimination or jeopardize the integrity of the electoral process.”

Although the ministry admits the advice shouldn’t be legally binding, India's deputy IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar says the notice “signals that that is the long run of regulation.” He added: “We are making this today as a advice and asking you to stick to it.”

In a tweet on Monday, Chandrasekhar said the advisory is geared toward “untested AI platforms deployed on the Indian web” and doesn’t apply to startups.

In its statement, the ministry refers back to the powers conferred on it by the IT Act, 2000 and the IT Rules, 2021. It seeks compliance with “immediate effect” and requires tech firms to submit an “motion with status report” to the ministry inside 15 days.

The latest notice, which also calls on tech firms to “appropriately” label the “possible and inherent fallibility or unreliability” of the outcomes generated by their AI models, marks a turnaround from India’s previous, hands-off approach to AI regulation. Less than a 12 months ago, the ministry had declined to control AI growth, as a substitute identifying the sector as critical to India's strategic interests.

India's move has surprised many industry executives. Many Indian startups and VCs say they’ve been unsettled by the brand new advisory and imagine such regulation will impact the country's ability to compete in the worldwide race, where it’s already lagging behind.

“I used to be silly enough to think I’d work to bring GenAI from San Francisco to Indian agriculture.” wrote Pratik Desai, founding father of the startup Kisan AI. “We trained a multimodal, low-cost pest and disease model and were very enthusiastic about it. This is terrible and demotivating after working full-time for 4 years to introduce AI on this field in India.”

Many Silicon Valley executives also criticized India's political changes. Aravind Srinivas, co-founder and managing director of Perplexity AI, considered one of the most well liked AI startups, said the brand new Delhi-based consultancy is a “bad move by India.”

Martin Casado, partner on the enterprise firm Andreessen Horowitz, said, “Good rattling sir. What a travesty.”

The reference comes after Chandrasekhar expressed disappointment over a certain response from Google's Gemini last month. Last month, a user asked Gemini, formerly generally known as Bard, whether India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a fascist.

In response, Gemini – citing experts it didn’t discover – said Modi had been accused of implementing policies that some had described as fascist. Chandrasekhar responded to the exchange by warning Google that such responses were “direct violations” of IT Rules 2021 in addition to “several provisions of the Penal Code.”

Failure to comply with the provisions of the IT Act and IT Rules would have “potential criminal consequences for the intermediaries or platforms or their users in the event that they are identified,” the advisory further states.


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