India’s Digital Infrastructure Centred Around Public Interest: Meta Executive Nick Clegg

by Pelican Press
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India’s Digital Infrastructure Centred Around Public Interest: Meta Executive Nick Clegg

India’s digital public infrastructure plays on key aspects of scale and technology being centered around public interest, and is a “marvelous model” for what others can do as citizenship becomes a digitalised phenomenon globally, Nick Clegg, President of Global Affairs of Meta, said on Wednesday.

Clegg spoke of how Meta and its apps like WhatsApp have leveraged various layers of India’s digital public utilities including health (during COVID vaccination certificate downloads) and payments, and added, “We are at the moment working with commerce layer ONDC to see what more we can do and to make sure card payments and merchant payments are facilitated”.

He said that when it comes to DPI (digital public infrastructure) construct, it is India’s scale and public interest philosophy of country “that has been so novel”, he said.

“…I think what is so clever about the construction of DPI is tech itself…it is the scale and this very important philosophy highlighted of not having government run it but making sure it has an open, interoperable layer. I very much like the way you have explained it is driven by public interest than the interest of the state,” he said.

Big private sector players like Meta have been able to work with the ethos of DPI and focus and objectives.

Clegg was speaking at an event, ‘Digital Transformation, an India story’, where he shared the dais with India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant.

“I agree it is a marvelous model for what others can do as citizenship becomes a digitalised phenomenon around the world,” Clegg said.

Speaking at the event, Kant said the technology will enable huge pole vaulting for societies, as it goes open source.

“And that is important for large tech companies to do…to go open source,” he said.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) will be hugely transformational for education, health, and nutrition, and for solving many challenges of emerging markets.

Describing AI as a “key driver of change”, Kant cautioned against regulating it too much.

“Regulators are always far, far behind in innovation, so don’t try and start regulating too much like Europe is doing now, it has already got in AI Act,” Kant observed.

Europe has lagged behind the US in innovation, given its overemphasis on regulation.

“While America has done a lot of innovation in last few decades, Europe has not seen much of innovation because it has brought in too much of regulation,” he said.

Kant asserted that technology should be allowed to grow and provide benefits to citizens.

On concerns that AI may have adverse effects and risks, Kant said, “Yes it can have an adverse impact and then…instead of regulating, we should clearly define user cases and say these are user cases where we will lay down regulatory norms,” Kant said.

But regulation must always be pro-innovation, Kant said, emphasising that “without a pro-innovation perspective regulation will kill AI”.

It is in the interest of developing and emerging markets that AI is able to use large data sets to make a difference in the lives of citizens.

“The leaders of G20 will have to discuss what is the road that they want to take further on this,” he said. 

Will the Nothing Phone 2 serve as the successor to the Phone 1, or will the two co-exist? We discuss the company’s recently launched handset and more on the latest episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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