Can AI Erase India's Digital Divide? Trials In Country's IT Capital Show Promising Results

Vijayalakshmi, a cook in Bengaluru who makes roughly ₹8,000 a month, is actively exploring artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Despite her limited grasp of tech aids and lack of English knowledge, she’s involved in an AI experiment designed to assist India’s disadvantaged people in accessing government poverty alleviation programs, circumventing corruption and bureaucracy.

What Happened? During a test in April, Vijayalakshmi interacted with an AI bot, asking about education scholarships in her native Kannada language, reveals Bloomberg. She instantly got a detailed explanation about the government assistance available for her 15-year-old son.

The introduction of OpenAI‘s ChatGPT has raised some worries about disinformation and job displacement, but a series of trials in Bengaluru indicate that AI could enhance social equity by facilitating professional communications, enabling people who don’t speak English, and helping those with disabilities.

See also: OpenAI’s Sam Altman Surprised By PM Narendra Modi’s Enthusiasm For AI

In India, where 16% of the population struggles with poverty, removing language and tech obstacles is crucial, states Bloomberg. Unlike China, which prohibits ChatGPT, or the U.S. and U.K., which are mulling over AI rules, India is embracing AI developments to tackle issues related to language, education, and cultural gaps. Several AI chatbots are in the works to help disadvantaged people with legal justice, agricultural advice, and support for migrant workers.

The other side of the AI coin: However, progress comes with challenges. The Bangalore trial demonstrated that while AI can overcome language and literacy hurdles, it might widen the divide by excluding those without access to technology. Additionally, there are persistent concerns about consent, data privacy, and security, particularly for those with limited technical abilities and formal education.

Nevertheless, Vijayalakshmi and others see AI as a beacon of hope. They believe AI won’t disregard their applications like corrupt bureaucrats. However, they also express fears of AI usurping jobs. “I don’t want to lose my job to a robot,” says Vijayalakshmi.

Read next: TCS Wants To Develop A ChatGPT-Like Code Generator For Businesses

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