Agencies for AI regulation in India
TechTalk: This is the first of a two-part series that explores what advertisers and agencies want from upcoming regulations on Generative AI
Published - May 29, 2023 8:14 AM | 6 min read
As human calls to regulate rapidly growing AI capabilities, particularly Generative AI tools like ChatGPT, grow louder, with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman to Apple’s Steve Wozniak to X’s Elon Musk demanding government oversight if not all out pausing development of AI capabilities, India has chosen a different path.
After hemming and hawing over fears that regulation would stifle innovation and entrepreneurship, India's digital and technology authorities have announced that the long-awaited Digital India Act will include provisions for setting guardrails for AI. Union Minister of State for IT and Electronics Rajeev Chandrasekhar told a news agency that the Act will regulate AI and emerging technologies through the ‘prism of user harm’, while noting that India has its own ideas on AI regulation.
“Are AI regulations important? Certainly! AI-based applications can possess serious short and long-term negative impacts when deployed incorrectly - intentionally or otherwise,” states Anand Chakravarthy - Chief Growth Officer, Omnicom Media Group India, adding “In advertising and media – many new-age AdTech and MarTech tools use or claim to leverage AI as their core USP. These platforms or tools are likely to be affected by new AI regulations as well as by Data Protection regulations.”
““It's one of my areas of greatest concern. Let's not ignore the words of Sam Altman, the architect behind one of the most groundbreaking AI technologies of our time. If we don't start considering the importance of AI regulation now, we risk the potential misuse of this powerful technology in the future,” cautions Samir Asher, Co-founder and COO, at Tonic Worldwide.
“Picture this: AI technology taking the advertising and marketing industry by storm. On one hand, the benefits are too tempting to ignore. On the other hand, the thought of privacy invasion and data misuse can send chills down our spines. AI can delve into vast amounts of personal data to sculpt detailed user profiles. But without the right permissions or protections, it's like peeking through someone's window,” he says.
“Worse, if this data strays into the wrong hands, it could spawn nightmares like identity theft or fraud. And yes, AI can track our digital breadcrumbs across different platforms, serving up ads that hit the bulls’ eye. With access to data and detailed user profiles, it could unfortunately also streamline large-scale spamming and phishing efforts. This misuse could open the floodgates to potential scams or data breaches,” adds Asher.
AI has been a part of the media industry and has shown tremendous growth over the years. Platforms like Google and Meta have consistently been using AI-based optimizers that enable campaign execution through their platforms.
Over the last few years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of AdTech tools claiming to be using Advanced AI, says Chakravarthy, noting, “At the heart of AI is the usage of historical data to train models so that they are able to automatically make decisions when put to use. So, one of the most critical aspects when using any AI application or tool is the quality of data that was used to primarily train the AI model. This is where the larger problem exists. When historical data is flawed or skewed or biased in any way, this flaw will be carried forward and propagated by the AI application.”
John Paite, Chief Creative Officer (ART & TECH) Media.Monks India, agrees, observing “AI gets trained under thousands of models and may not be able to categorize race, gender and other ethical matters. End users will need to have a QA team to monitor outputs before publishing them. In conclusion, we have to be responsible and use it with precaution for anything that is AI-generated as it is randomized and consistency is still a big issue.”
Vijay Varshney, Head of Technology, MESA at Smollan, believes that addressing certain areas within the advertising and marketing industry is crucial when it comes to AI regulations. Promoting transparency in AI-powered advertising, particularly in the retail sector, can build trust among consumers through personalized product recommendations.
“I also believe there is a need to strengthen consumer protection laws, such as the existing Consumer Protection Act of 1986 in India, to safeguard against biased, deceptive practices and false claims about products driven by AI-based marketing algorithms. By doing so, we can enhance transparency in the industry. It is important to recognize that the integration of AI technology in the retail industry is an ongoing journey,” says Varshney, adding it is therefore necessary to amend and update associated laws in a timely manner, ensuring they keep pace with the evolving landscape and effectively address the challenges and opportunities presented by AI-driven marketing.
Vivek Kumar Anand, Chief Business Officer, DViO Digital agrees that the need for AI regulation has ignited a spirited debate within various business communities, and he prefers to take a different view.
“In a written statement, IT and Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw clarified that the Indian government does not plan to introduce laws to restrict the growth of artificial intelligence. However, it was acknowledged that ethical concerns and risks surround AI, prompting government agencies to embark on efforts to standardise responsible AI practices and foster their widespread adoption.”
The perspective resonates with the viewpoint of Yann LeCun, the chief AI scientist at Meta, who chose not to endorse the open letter advocating for AI regulation. LeCun believes that demanding safety measures for current AI systems, which possess limited capabilities, is premature.
“I align myself with this standpoint. Imposing excessive and stringent regulations at this early stage of exploring AI's potential could stifle creativity and impede the development of valuable AI-driven advertising technologies. Thus, regulations should strike a delicate balance between promoting innovation and ensuring responsible AI use,” says Anand.
“Since advertising and marketing is an industry that directly speaks to the general audience there are several things that have to be caveated. Plagiarism and infringement of copyright has to be checked before publishing any form of content. There are other AI platforms that can quickly help the process,” adds Paite.
“With Deepfakes in advertising, a company could whip up a video featuring a popular celebrity seemingly endorsing their product. However, this could potentially lead consumers down a misleading path and tarnish the reputation of the unsuspecting individuals involved. AI can also perfectly mimic the voice of a famous personality or a loved one, says Asher, concluding “While we embrace AI's perks, we must avoid crossing into discomfort, privacy breaches, or manipulation.
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