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Experts’ body must guide tech policy-making, says Wharton School professor

Kartik Hosanagar says policy changes have been made in response to popular sentiment.

Jun 12, 2019, 10.38 AM IST
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The government should focus on introducing the right policies for regulating digital businesses, since India has fallen behind the US and China in developing cutting-edge artificial intelligence and other technologies.
BENGALURU: The government should set up a consultative body of experts from industry and academia to guide it on policy-making, said Kartik Hosanagar, an expert on the gig economy and professor at the Wharton School, in the backdrop of technology spreading deeper into the Indian economy and touching the lives of more of its citizens.

India has made rules for new-age businesses such as ecommerce and ride hailing, but many of these policy changes have been made in response to the popular sentiment rather than being informed decisions, he said.

An expert panel that can advise the government on issues would be invaluable, he added.

“I think elected representatives should have a body that they consult. This is something I have suggested they do even in the US,” Hosanagar said in a recent interaction with ET on the sidelines of his book launch here.

“It can be more than an algorithmic safety board, and can address all digital technologies out there.”

The government should focus on introducing the right policies for regulating digital businesses, since India has fallen behind the United States and China in developing cutting-edge artificial intelligence and other technologies.

However, that may just be an advantage as it can learn from the mistakes of the two giant economies. “I think self-regulation is needed. There needs to be regulatory checks,” he said. “We can say that if you’re going to use Aadhaar for recruiting or for credit approval, then there has to be an audit of the algorithms by a third party.”

In the long term, India needs to promote data literacy — among citizens, industry as well as government representatives, he said. “Elected representatives need to understand some basic facts, but the people crafting the policies need to have an absolute understanding of things and need to get really savvy with data,” Hosanagar said. “I think data literacy is going to be the number one thing that everyone will need in the next 100 years.”
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