It is becoming increasingly evident that the far-reaching impacts of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) warrant immediate attention to the digitalisation of society itself. AI is not just another technology that has emerged on the horizon. On the contrary, it is a general purpose technology akin to electricity or the internal combustion engine that catalyses paradigmatic transformations in the economy and society. This characteristic allows it to have wide-ranging applicability across critical sectors including health, education, production and manufacturing, agriculture, public administration and governance. As AI becomes pervasive, it reinvents the systemic logic that underpins social institutions and their norms and practices and rewrites economic, governance and social processes. In the process, it throws up critical development questions for people’s inclusion, livelihoods, equity and rights.
The idea of development that AI technologies seem to endorse need to be carefully scrutinised so that these may be redirected towards equitable ends. IT for Change's project, Reconceptualising Development in Times of Digital Intelligence, is aimed at exploring these themes. Specifically, we look at the following three questions:
- What are the key concerns with respect to rights-based development that policy and programming frameworks for data and AI should address?
- How do existing frameworks bear up in this context?
- What are key lacunae that need to be addressed?
As part of this project, we explore the following focus areas through a series of essays: