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India: The Importance of Non-Personal Data for AI Ecosystem Development

The National e-Governance Division (NeGD), under the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), organised an AI Dialogue (AI Pe Charcha) to discuss the importance of and approaches to enabling access to quality datasets for AI, chaired by Abhishek Singh, the NeGD CEO. Speakers from a variety of backgrounds spoke with government officials, AI enthusiasts, AI practitioners, students, and those who want to understand the role of data in catalysing the AI innovation ecosystem.

Singh noted the importance of data for AI and highlighted some of the key initiatives of the government of India to enhance access to quality datasets, including the National Data Governance Framework policy. The Framework aims to transform and modernise the government’s data collection and management processes and systems.

Participants explored the current open data ecosystem, challenges in providing access to quality datasets for AI, the role of different stakeholders in ensuring responsible use of data for innovation and the way forward for India.

The recently released report, “Unlocking Potential of India’s Open Data”, was also discussed. NASSCOM, MeitY, industry partners, and tech giants constituted the Data Taskforce in 2021 to suggest ways to unlock the potential of India’s Open Government Data.

An industry expert, who also chaired the Data Taskforce, shared an overview of the taskforce’s work over the last six months and key insights uncovered. Other officials spoke about their experiences building open data platforms and the challenges involved in sourcing, curating, and ensuring access to high-quality datasets under open access. Participants also heard experts discuss some of the biggest challenges emerging AI companies and innovators face today regarding data.

The AI Pe Charcha series has been initiated as a part of Responsible AI for Social Empowerment (RAISE), India’s first global AI summit, which was organised by MeitY in 2020. These government initiatives have commenced a much-needed discourse on AI, the release claimed. The government expects them to lead to positive, tangible, meaningful changes in the overall economic and social sphere.

OpenGov Asia recently reported that India ranks 32nd among 181 nations in the AI Readiness Index 2022. India has developed many initiatives aimed at embedding AI use throughout all levels of government and society, as well as ensuring that technological developments reinforce India’s place in the international realm. For instance, the government announced that it would train three million government officials in AI and other emerging technologies. It released the National AI Strategy in 2018 and has launched the Semiconductor Mission, which seeks ‘to drive the long-term strategies for developing sustainable semiconductors and display ecosystem.’

The AI market globally was nearly US$ 59.67 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39.4% to reach around US$ 422.37 billion by 2028. With the rapid growth of AI and machine learning (ML), experts predict that most businesses will shift to AI-powered systems, apps, security systems, data analysis, and other applications in the future. AI is expected to add US$ 967 billion to India’s economy by 2035 and US$ 450–500 billion to India’s GDP by 2025, accounting for 10% of the country’s US $5 trillion GDP target.

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