How can India face AI consequentialism?

AI consequentialism is not a new phenomenon in the making. The concept is quite simple. In a research paper published in May this year, entitled ‘On Consequentialism and Fairness’, the notions of consequentialism with respect to AI ethics have been beautifully discussed.

Should a robot be an inventor?
Should a robot be an inventor?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Consequentialism is not a new phenomenon in the making. The conception is quite simple. In a research paper published on May 8, 2020, entitled “On Consequentialism and Fairness” in Conceptual Analysis, the notions of consequentialism with respect to AI Ethics, have been beautifully discussed by the authors. The paper tries to show that consequentialism is a linear area of development, where its cones and sides can have blurs and sharpness. Nevertheless, consequentialism is an important doctrine in the philosophy of ethics in the West, which India with utmost humility, must never ignore. The author, therefore, intends to discuss what can be consequentialism, its problematic behaviour with regards to adopting a policy on AI Ethics, and how can India overcome it. The reasons behind the need of India’s potential to overcome consequentialism in AI is because of the political role of disruptive technology in our lives, and the lack of aesthetic understandings of the West of the East, especially India and China. The article therefore is a generic insight on the same development and its problems. 

How did Consequentialism Transform in the West and what did India learn from it? Consequentialism in general is about the politics, aesthetics and naturalization of consequences in any frame of reference. Whatever be the subject, it is the art and science of consequence which drives various considerations behind the subject. The theory of consequentialism has its basis in the theories of Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Peter Singer & Derek Parfit. Theories of consequentialism can also be sought in Newtonian physics and Galilean relativity. In the coming centuries, amidst the First and Second World Wars, the political, scientific and social transformation of consequentialism has been lucrative & impressive. Considering the same development, what can be sought from Alan Turing’s ‘Polite Convention’ (also known as the Turing Test in his work “The Imitation Game”) to Nick Bostrom in the 21st Century, it is clear that the West has been proficient in adapting and practicing how consequentialism works. There can be many political references to the art of consequentialism, some of which can be American Exceptionalism, Israeli-Russian masochism, Chinese strategic secular realism. The cultural ethos of India also is based on these contours, and can be seen in the political and historical tenets of the phenomenon known as Indian Idealism. Vivekananda, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, Gandhi, Ambedkar and even former PM Nehru have showered their own manifestations of ‘idealism’, which can be based on Indic, western or any credentials possible. It’s therefore not necessary to agree with every tenet and idea of the Indian schools of thought. However, one of the most emerging school of thought, which is looked upon by many people, is the Indic school of thought, comprising the Vedic-Historic approaches towards the conceptions of libertarianism, conservatism, secularism & capitalism – the four most important aspects of political contemporaries in the 21st century. The transformation of these 4 tenets of political and economic thought in India would shape how the Government of India would consider the role of AI in governance. The Responsible AI Draft proposed by NITI Aayog is a learned culmination of the values regarding AI Ethics with its own reservations kept in the Indian scenario. This draft, which was disclosed to the public in July 2020, is in lines with the AI Commitments rendered by the Pax Americana bloc, especially the US, the EU/ NATO/Council of Europe members, Singapore and the UK. Interestingly, even this draft espouses a reasonable coverage of consequentialism and constitutional morality with practical examples and models. This at least shows that India is committed to learn and adapt with the international standards over disruptive technologies. However, considering the Apps Ban procured by the Government as a significant example, it is not unreasonable to infer that actions like these also reflect a confusing image as to what can be the preventive measures that investors should adopt to affirm confidence for technology related investments in India in the coming years. 

The Aesthetic Transformation of AI Consequentialism and the Indic Way

 AI Consequentialism is a transformative phenomenon, and the Indic transcendence towards the same can be effective based on how India sees the constructive and substantive roles of the four tenets in politics, economics and society, which are – secularism, libertarianism, capitalism and conservatism. There are special reasons as to why only these 4 tenets are important in the road to the Indic way. First, all of the four tenets have international considerations, and can be utilized by a state by transforming it in clear coherence with the geographic, cultural and civilizational aspects of the state and its people. Israel for example is a Jewish state, but its proceduralism, like the UK (which is technically not a secular state due to the monarchy) – can be secular. Libertarianism and Conservatism are binary political ideas, undoubtedly. However, their role is significant because both of them have intersectional cohesion when it comes to the implementation of solutions. The problems of today, where global progressivism (Democratic Socialism and Cultural Marxism) and global conservatism (revisionism, civilizational intransigence & cultural relativism) are prevalent today also shows the need that the libertarian voice and considerations have either been ignored or have been marginalized into socialistic ideals, which is cancerous for any liberal democracy. Former US President Ronald Reagan & the former British Prime Ministers Thatcher, Cameroon and Blair believed in neoliberalism – which paved for a liberal, rules-based international order. The shortcomings of the order and technology politics which we see today, whether in the case of Brexit or the role of China in controlling the future of technology stems from the very issue that certain state actors, like China, Russia, DPRK and even the US until Donald Trump believed that they can control the future of technology. Israel, India, the EU, African Union member-states and even ASEAN countries were correct on their path that they cannot control how politically relevant technology can be. In fact, even if India’s policy considerations are thawing out from the Non-Aligned Movement faster than before, it is possible that most of the countries will now shape technology politics through protectionist, neoconservative and neorealist measures, and India will join them. Thus, we already have the background for the Indic way to come in and transform how can India seek AI Consequentialism.

 Let us begin with Secularism. Secularism itself is a fluid concept, and a better term that defines harmony and respect for religious freedoms stems from the idea of organic secularism. The Vedic methodology towards people who practice other faiths has never been antagonistic, considering Sanatana Dharma/Hinduism as a natural religion. Issues related to religion-centric violence do not hold water as they are social and individual problems, and not ideologically related. Therefore, India must learn from the thinkers and the schools of thought within the Indic literature to accommodate Organic Secularism as a replacement to civic nationalism, which was alleged by some jurists and scholars as the conception of the Constituent Assembly members. Organic Secularism can gain much higher validation that a model of secularism that is based on ethnocentric and Western-Mediterranean values because the role of technology would be assumed not through the lens of identity politics, which eventually ethnocentric models of secularism lead to in post-colonial states from Bangladesh to Nigeria. Even the neoconservative/classic liberal view towards the US Constitution must not be limited to the SCOTUS judgments on Secularism, because the comment on the separation of church from state by Thomas Jefferson is based on a premise that there was such an intermingled connection at the first place. The United States, unlike the Europeans, the Turks and the British, has been an open-ended state, which endorses religious freedoms at all levels. The Judeo-Christian view, which was biblical, has now transformed into American Exceptionalism. Despite anti-Semitism, Hinduphobia, Islamophobia, Jewish hatred and even White Supremacy, the US has retained its considerations as a stable and reasonable secular state, where the contours of exceptionalism do not sideline religious freedoms. Instead, the same is protected, whether of any identitarian origins. India can learn from American exceptionalism, and focus on the idealistic, all-comprehensive annals of Dharma and utilize the conceptions of Sanatana Dharma to transform the social aisles of morality, ethics, strategic parity and constitutionalism in matters related to technology politics, diplomacy and constitutionalism. Considering the beautiful resemblance of constitutionalism India can seek between the Constitution of India, 1950 and Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, it is possible that the Dharmic understandings of Organic Secularism in India can be utilized to cater, weaponize and stir the social, political and strategic causes of technology, and so, artificial intelligence. The second and third tenets, that is – Libertarianism and Conservatism – can be approached via the Indic way. It is true that the origins of classic liberalism and modern conservatism in Europe cannot be applied directly in the 21st Century due to obvious reasons. However, as Simon Anholt pointed out in his book “The Good Country Equation”, anything which nationalized, even propaganda, may or may not be internationalized that wide. This is the difference between global progressivism, an amalgamation of Cultural Marxism and Democratic Socialism & Libertarianism. Black Lives Matter, for example, as a cause, and not as an organization, is a reasonable cause. However, the involvement of the Chinese in the BLM rioting and the activities of revisionist vandalism in the US, the UK and EU states in the name of decoloniality shows that global progressivism, which actually misused the moderate behaviour of neoliberalism and global capitalism, is now being challenged in Europe and the US, in starters. There is no doubt that neoconservatism also needs to be transformed and limit itself from religious evangelism, whether of any kind, in the West, the Middle East and Asia. Thus, it is a global need that Libertarianism and Conservatism come up as a joint political phenomenon and school of thought, where dissent, support and considerations towards political actions are incrementally and reasonably assessed. India therefore can effectively transform libertarianism-conservatism since the Indic civilization, and the Indic school of thought actually focuses on some sort of idealistic virtues. The significant problems which can come in when it comes to adapting tech are related to (a) the kleptocratic and restrictive approaches towards rule of law and constitutional morality; (b) the philosophizing and selective application of comparative constitutional jurisprudence on civil liberties; and (c) the lack of harmony of ideological viewpoints when any judicial review, administrative reform or parliamentary action is put in course. India needs to overcome these issues through better background reforms. The Government of India at least has started the initiative via the works published by NITI Aayog on AI Ethics. 

The fourth tenet, Capitalism, does not require much justification, because the American view of capitalism has few shortcomings, such as corporatism and big government, which are a part of the ethnocentric oversight of MNCs, NGOs and governmental, multilateral and intergovernmental bodies affiliated or associated with the US and the Council of Europe member-states. Since, India focuses on reformed multilateralism, and can catalyse welfare policies in a reasonable way, it is strictly important that the Government ends all the archaic and restrictive means of economic marginalization, and repeat the 1991 moment. The moment of reforms in Labour Law and agricultural economics has already been achieved through the legislations passed in the past weeks, and this development is certainly reasonable. More or less, there are significant examples of the involvement of Indian diplomats, companies and start-ups, where in most cases, India has avoided corporatism, ethnocentrism and kleptocracy. Nevertheless, reforms and implementation can be cyclic, and the Indian state is therefore at least capable if not efficient right now, to bring effectiveness. In the information age, it is the state that takes a back seat and ensures more. 

An Indian Approach Towards AI Consequentialism 

AI Consequentialism is a transformative phenomenon, and the Indic transcendence towards the same is approachable. Let us understand what stems out of AI Consequentialism, and how those principles can be democratized in application. There are certain important conceptions in the field of AI Ethics and Social Sciences that have emerged in the coming times. Some of them, connected to the emerging nature of AI Consequentialism are:

 • Responsible AI 

• Algorithmic Accountability

 • Algorithmic Justice

 • Algorithmic Policing 

• Human-centered AI All these popularized conceptions have stemmed their origins from the US and Europe. Some of the common problems that these conceptions do have are – 

(a) they are too materialistic and lack practical application;

 (b) the conception of responsibility is too much marginalized to limited actors despite recognizing the fact that AI is influenced by omnipresence and the multiplicity of actors;

 (c) the conception that the multiplicity of actors in case of AI would be reasonable does not mean to marginalize the substantive thickness and structure of human rights or civil liberties enforcement because over clustering of human rights conceptions causes greater problems for law enforcement agencies and juries & the usage of old principles of civil and criminal liabilities is transformed into kleptocratic formulations; most of them are ideologically biased and untrue: their definitions are unsettling and they are central to political subversion and ethnocentrism; Now, considering India, it is important to gather incremental anthropological research to draw out solutions and contours to these common problems.

 Starting with the idea of Responsible AI, it is well-reasonable within the ambit of NITI Aayog to understand that there are no generalist solutions to recognize an autonomous ambit of AI. However, combating the ethnocentric approach of Responsible AI is impossible unless the Indic way of idealism and commitment does not fall into the trap of indoctrination. Instead, a better solution is to prevent any obscuration, focus on incremental and constructive inferential research, educate the cultural, aesthetic, identitarian, social and individual realities of AI and its influence, by balancing the perils of experience and developing superstitions and their normalization. The reason is that if any anthropological development is encultured as a tradition, which even AI can foster, in horizons like lifestyle, social media, economic cycles and global capitalism, then if on a chronological basis, the very aspect and reason behind the foresight and control of exercise of that custom/tradition is not acutely determined and self-regulatory for the individual, community or organization, then it is clear that the rupture and degeneracy of traditions and customs can easily lead to the development of superstition and judgementalism. Companies misuse AI Ethics and fund infotainment propaganda for the same purpose. India can learn from its civilizational maturity and articulation to prevent any radical enculturation of AI solutions in the social and economic forum of the sub-continent. Similar issues come up with algorithmic policing and algorithmic justice, because the difference between the two is that while the former is more related to the explanability and lack of fluidity cum coherence of algorithms to real scenario and their interventionism and aberrations made, the latter needs strong, and highly experienced definitive considerations, where non-elected representatives cannot participate at multilateral levels, and without a whole pack of consultations, education beyond basic standards of awareness, avoidance of fearmongering and judgementalism & pedagogy to enculture constructive enquiry – neither of the two conceptions can be appropriately retained. 

The concept of humancentric AI can be transformed and rejuvenated by the Indian philosophical take towards human anatomy, the cyclic connect between mind, body and soul & the constructively optimistic enculturation of AI into better, responsibly foreseen and stronger surroundings, at an aesthetic level. Similarly, algorithmic accountability can very well be established, but through avoiding the misuse of technocratic measures in a legal system. Considering the administrative conditions of the Indian state, it is highly recommended that no top-to-down absolutist approaches are established. Thus, deputizing and federalizing the implementation of the NITI Aayog’s proposals would certainly be of great help and use. Thus, in order to make that happen, trust as a credential and currency of purpose here – must be reflected through the intermingled network of feedback & experience backed by explanability & the resistant tolerance towards any sort of disruption that the collectivist and all-connective behaviour of AI infrastructures can cause in the near decades. Some of the recommendations made can be the initial ways to encourage ideas and solutions, but we must realize that the Indian state and its civilizational philosophy has not focuses on ends-centric, linear and mundane time frames of solutions, which means that the process of replenishment is more of a collective transformation & transition of the social order and civil society. It is important that Indian idealism should be not subject as a scapegoat towards any indoctrination of superstitious, ethnocentric or impractical diplomatic strategies. 

Abhivardhan, Chairperson & Managing Trustee, Indian Society of Artificial Intelligence and Law & Chief Executive Officer, Internationalism.