PM Narendra Modi and Bill Gates discuss AI, democratizing tech, and Covid in epic conversation


In a freewheeling conversation with Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted important measures that should be taken while using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the contemporary technological world, and said that the world should establish some dos and don’ts for using this technology.

“In a vast democratic country like India, the misuse of deepfake technology. For example, they may misuse my voice. It can initially deceive people, leading to widespread chaos. It’s crucial to acknowledge that deep fake content is AI-generated and mention its source,” PM Modi said while addressing the issue of deep fake.

“These measures are really important, especially in the beginning. We need to establish some Dos and don’ts. Moreover, one should first engage AI within a field of expertise. Simply utilising it because one is “tired” or overutilizing it is not the right approach,” he added.

Deepfake is a video of a person in which their face or body has been digitally altered so that they appear to be someone else, typically used maliciously or to spread false information.

In a candid conversation with the Microsoft co-founder at his residence PM Modi addressed the challenges posed by AI and underlined the significance of initially using watermarks on AI-generated content to make users aware and prevent misinformation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates during a meeting at his residence, in New Delhi on Friday. (IANS/Video Grab)

“Addressing the challenges AI presents, I have observed that without proper training, there’s a significant risk of misuse when such powerful technology is places in unskilled hands. I’ve engaged with leading minds of AI, I suggested that we should start with clear watermarks on AI-generated content to prevent misinformation. This isn’t to devalue AI creations but to recognise them for what they are,” PM said.

“Data security remains a paramount concern and while India has a legal framework in place. For instance, I have initiated storing all university certificates in the cloud to reduce costs and fulfil various needs efficiently. Previously, there was push for stringent compliance requirements. I advocated for simplification, suggesting that data to be uploaded to the cloud with shared IDs, enabling us to access necessary information directly. This approach underscores my commitment to leveraging technology not just to enhance services but to significantly improve the ease of living for our citizens,” he added.

Bill Gates also acknowledged the challenges that AI presents and said that the technology was also a huge opportunity.

“It’s early days in AI and I think everyone uses it. In the same day you’re surprised at how good it is, and you’re also surprised at how bad it is. It’ll do things you think are hard, and then it’ll fail to do some things you think are easy. I started my trip here in Hyderabad, which was a nice occasion because Microsoft is celebrating 25 years in the country, and that’s been such a fantastic experience. So I was definitely challenging the team there. Hey, we have to make the accuracy better. And for now, it’s like a Copilot. It helps suggest things. But the final decision about the medicine or the letter you want to write, the final decision, we still have to review that, even though it may make us a bit more creative and a bit more productive. You know, it seems like AI is a huge opportunity, but there are some challenges that come with that” Gates said.

AI has been one of the focus areas of the Indian government. The Cabinet had recently approved the comprehensive national-level IndiaAI mission with a budget outlay of ₹10,372 crore. The IndiaAI mission will establish a comprehensive ecosystem catalyzing AI innovation through strategic programs and partnerships across the public and private sectors.

Later, PM Modi opened up about the policies and steps taken by his government to combat rumours regarding vaccines for COVID-19 in India.

PM Modi, when Gates asked about how the PM managed the communication with the people during the pandemic that rumours regarding vaccines were controlled here in India unlike other parts of the world, said that he himself used to set examples in front of people.

“Firstly, I forced people to become educated about the virus that the fight against it is for everyone. This was my first philosophy that- this is not a virus versus government, but life versus virus. Secondly, I started communicating from day one, directly to the people of my country. I myself started following all the protocols publicly,” the PM said.

PM Modi further highlighted how trust was built between the people and the government due to his efforts.

“I started taking everything publicly as an example in front of people. Then I told them to clang vessels, light the lamps. In our country, there was a great effort to make fun of it. But I had to take people into confidence that we had to fight this fight together. When this confidence was formed that we had to save our lives and the lives of others, a kind of mass movement was formed. In a democratic way, you can’t work with a stick. You have to educate people, convince them, and take them along,” the PM said, adding, “I took the vaccine myself. And my mother who was 95 years old at the time also took the vaccine publicly. So, I made an example and showed it to people.”

The PM also said that his government, if elected to power again, will work towards eradicating cervical cancer.

“In the coming days, I want to talk about cervical cancer, especially for our daughters. I want to give a budget to our scientists in India. And I want to tell them to do local research on this as well and make a vaccine. And with very little money, I want to vaccinate all the daughters in my country. I am working in that direction these days. When my new government is formed, I want to invest a lot of money in research in that direction,” PM Modi said.

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