Reconceptualising development in times of digital intelligence

It is becoming increasingly evident that the far reaching impacts of machine learning and AI demand 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 holding social institutions and their norms and practices and rewrites economic, governance and social processes, throwing up in the process, critical development questions for people’s inclusion, livelihoods, equity and rights.

AI technologies therefore, need to be carefully scrutinised for the idea of development that they seem to endorse and redirected for equitable ends. Our project, 'Reconceptualising development in times of digital intelligence', is aimed at exploring these themes. Specifically, we look at: 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 will explore the following focus areas through a series of essays:


a. Towards a governance framework for AI and development

b. Ease of business or enhancing farmer livelihoods?: What should be the role for AI in Indian agriculture?

c. Public ports, private data regimes: Data, AI and value capture in the Indian logistics chain

d. The governance challenges of Artificial Intelligence in fintech

e. The right to education reexamined through the lens of AI initiatives in India


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Reconceptualising development in times of digital intelligence