The government has allocated $200 million to build an artificial intelligence (AI) programme that will help solve India's governance challenges.

"Just like UPI was built to solve a government problem and has created one of the vibrant fintech ecosystems in the world, we believe AI can solve India's governance problems," Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) Rajeev Chandrasekhar said at the Business Standard TechTalk on Friday.

The minister assured the government is not going to be financially restrained in developing the artificial intelligence ecosystem. "There is no point talking about $1 billion for AI today when there is no credible roadmap for the first $100 million," he said, adding that if there is more funding required to build the AI ecosystem then the same will be considered.

"We have launched the India AI programme. The government has announced a considerable amount of money for it. Three centres of excellence are being established and these centres are not going to be standalone silos but they are going to be hubs in a network of spokes all around the country," Chandrasekhar said.

The minister further said that the government is launching the India data sets programme. "Why this programme is going to be powerful is because we represent one of the most diverse collections of data sets and citizens," he said.

When the data sets that the government has made are available to Indian researchers and Indian start-ups, it can be a game changer, the minister said. "We would allow direct access of these data sets to only Indian start-ups and Indian research companies," he added.

One of the government's top priorities is the Indian Stack, an AI governance application. "India Stack will become a lot more intelligent and more customised for the local community. We are looking at whether India Stack will be able to tune schemes according to the demography of a particular village," Chandrasekhar said.

"We started the digitalisation process by building independent platforms. You had UPI, you had Aadhaar, you had CoWin, you had Skill India, and now we have consolidated and integrated that into India Stack," the minister said.

"Now we will bring learning and intelligence into that Stack which will sit on all this data that we have about consumer behaviour," he added.

Chandrasekhar, however, cautioned that there are many concerns around the unfettered use of AI.

The New Digital India Act, which is a replacement for the IT Act, will cover the framework of guardrails for the ethical use of emerging technologies without disrupting innovation, he said.

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