Sridhar Vembu, the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Zoho Corp has proposed to the central government to create a strong policy on AI so that users can enjoy the openness and transparency of this emerging tech innovation. Along with Rajiv Kumar, former chairperson of Niti Aayog and Sharad Sharma, co-founder of iSPIRIT Foundation, he submitted a proposal to the government with these suggestions.
Addressing the press in Tenkasi, Vembu said AI could threaten programmers’ jobs. If it would replace human labour, programmers would be the first ones to lose their jobs. Citing a report by Goldman Sachs, he added that at least 300 million jobs in the world are on the verge of risk, right now.
“We are fully aware that for a developing country like India, the application of AI in various fields provides an opportunity to pole-vault the traditional, linear growth paths. Deploying advanced technologies optimally and strategically can create a potent mix of resources and infrastructure that can yield more equitable and sustainable growth. For a remarkably young country like India, with a median age of 29, AI offers a huge opportunity to raise labour productivity, build a knowledge society and further enhance our demographic dividend.
At the same time, it is also clear that AI could put millions of jobs at risk almost overnight. The dizzying pace of the ongoing digital revolution has meant that AI is inveigling itself into the economic, psychosocial, and cultural aspects of human life at an unprecedented speed. The downstream effects of adopting technologies such as AI without essential due diligence and appropriate safeguards can cause unprecedented disruption of the existing social order.
We know that technological progress is inexorable and overall beneficial. Yet we have to manage it carefully to avoid unmanageable socio-economic disruptions at scale,” the letter added.
Vembu has been vocal against the monopolisation in the AI space for the first few days. Taking the issue to Twitter, he wrote “The air we breathe is free and we don't complain about it, so if a future magical AI were to produce all the goods and services free of human labor, it need not be bad for us. The real question is "how do we pay for those goods because there are no jobs and hence no income.”
1/ I will summarize my concerns about AI. I won't focus on the technology itself but on the economic consequences.— Sridhar Vembu (@svembu) March 31, 2023
First of all, if AI were to eliminate all jobs, it means AI is able to produce all the goods and services humans need and want without human labor.
“That question comes down to "who owns the magical AI" - are there monopolies that extract rent? Indians get practically free digital payments because UPI is a common digital good. That analogy applies to AI well. Public policy has to ensure that no one monopolizes AI, he also added.”