l MAKING PUBLIC GOODS BETTER: Putting AI to work for governments

Uma Ganesh | October 18, 2023 |
Tech has the power to usher in a new era of citizen services

The use cases for generative AI in different sectors and functions are under active deliberations . The key questions around accountability and ethics have made the role of the government important. In fact, the government has a dual role to play – one as an authority to define the rules for responsible AI and the other to adopt it for transforming itself.

The scale and speed with which generative AI applications are being built have major ramifications and hence this has attracted the attention of the governments world over. Generative AI has the ability to generate video, text, codes and other forms of output from the large volume of data available on the internet. There could be inaccurate content generated based on models built with biases, loss of control over personal data and creation of fake identities for misrepresentation. Therefore, policymakers need to be watchful, constantly finetuning their policies to address such risks emanating from generative AI models in the public domain.

Governments need to lay down guidelines to address issues of accountability, privacy and biases. Generative AI systems should strictly abide by these frameworks and selection of partners and developers who are committed to such practices would be crucial. They should be willing to share the basis for algorithmic models developed by them and data sources used for generative AI applications. The data privacy legislation recently announced by the Indian government is expected to offer protection to citizens with regard to the use and storage of personal data to some extent. However, anonymisation processes need to be developed upon to mitigate privacy risks.

Generative AI is a shot in the arm for governments looking to solve myriad problems of their citizens. The constraints faced by governments in providing adequate attention and services to all segments of the society are in fact the catalysts for the use of generative AI in the government. Governments generate the largest quantum of data and with the help of generative AI they could derive beneficial insights on decision-making on matters concerning public good.

Governments could expedite resolutions by automating repetitive issues as well as by providing self-service support to citizens and employees to find quick solutions for commonly recurring problems. Complex legal documents could be made available in easy-to- understand formats with the help of interactive components of generative AI to various stakeholders. Generative AI could also help in disaster management, fraud prevention, potential tax evasion and emergency preparedness based on insights derived from the analysis of trends and patterns built around the huge amounts of data at its disposal.

Since generative AI is at a nascent phase, citizens may not be familiar with the concept and its potential implications. Hence creating public awareness is also an important responsibility of the government so that its citizens are sensitised on how these systems would impact them in future.

Originally appeared in Financial Express