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Ethics of AI in Public Policy in the Indian context

Ethics Of Ai

The presence of extreme poverty in numerous developing nations poses a pressing challenge that urgently needs attention due to its negative impact on human well-being. This issue is evident through inadequate food and nutrition, insufficient shelter, limited access to safe drinking water, low literacy rates, high infant and maternal mortality rates, elevated unemployment levels, and a pervasive sense of vulnerability and disempowerment. In this blog, we will explore poverty alleviation, its causes, poverty reduction measures by the government, and how there is a dire need for highly qualified and highly skilled policymakers who can craft public policies for poverty reduction and growth in India. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionising public policy and governance worldwide. In India, the rapid adoption of AI technologies necessitates a thorough examination of AI ethics and their implications. Ensuring the effective deployment of AI and ethics in public policy is crucial to safeguarding democratic values, transparency, and public trust. This blog explores the ethical dimensions of Indian Artificial Intelligence (AI public policy), drawing insights from global and national frameworks.

The Indian landscape

India’s AI landscape is burgeoning, with significant strides in public policy applications. Initiatives like the Tamil Nadu Safe and Ethical Artificial Intelligence (AI) Policy exemplify India’s commitment to ethical AI deployment. This policy framework underscores the need for transparency, accountability, and inclusivity in AI systems used by public administrations. However, the Indian context also presents unique challenges, such as data privacy concerns, biases in AI algorithms, and the digital divide.

Overview of AI ethics

AI ethics refers to the principles guiding the development, deployment, and regulation of AI technologies to ensure they are used responsibly. Key principles include transparency, accountability, fairness, privacy, and inclusivity. Global perspectives, such as the UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, offer comprehensive guidelines for ethical AI adoption. These guidelines emphasise the need for AI systems to be designed and implemented in a manner that respects human rights and democratic values.

Ethics of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Public Policy

Take a look at these 5 ethical principles that are crucial to ensure AI systems are designed and deployed responsibly:

  • Transparency and Explainability
    AI systems should be transparent, with clear explanations of their decision-making processes. This principle is vital in public policy to build trust and accountability.
    For instance, when AI is used in judicial decisions, it’s imperative that the reasoning behind these decisions is understandable to the general public to prevent misuse and build trust.
  • Accountability
    Policymakers and developers must be accountable for AI outcomes. Establishing clear lines of responsibility ensures ethical governance. If an AI system makes a mistake, it is crucial to have a defined process for addressing and correcting these errors.
    An example is the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which includes provisions for accountability and redress mechanisms.
  • Fairness and Non-Discrimination
    AI systems must be free from bias, ensuring equitable treatment of all individuals, regardless of gender, race, or socio-economic status. Historical biases can be embedded in AI systems if not properly checked. For instance, predictive policing algorithms in the US have been found to disproportionately target minority communities.
  • Privacy and Data Protection
    Protecting individual privacy and securing data against misuse is essential in AI ethics. In India, the implementation of AI in public policy must align with the Personal Data Protection Bill, which aims to safeguard citizens’ privacy and personal data.
  • Safety and Reliability
    AI systems must be robust and reliable, minimising risks and ensuring public safety. This includes rigorous testing and validation of AI systems before deployment in critical public services like healthcare and transportation. In India, rural residents face a daunting journey for basic healthcare due to long distances, limited facilities, and frequent doctor absences. AI-driven smart clinics bring essential medical services directly to these underserved communities.

Case Studies

Tamil Nadu’s Safe and Ethical AI Policy

Tamil Nadu has pioneered efforts to create an AI ethics policy aimed at ethical AI deployment. The state’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) policy emphasises transparency, accountability, and inclusivity.

Real-life Example

The Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency (TNeGA) implemented the DEEP-MAX Scorecard to evaluate AI systems before public rollout. This scorecard ensures AI systems align with ethical standards by assessing diversity, equity, and misuse protection. The scorecard covers various aspects, including data quality, algorithmic fairness, and impact assessment.

Global AI Ethics and Governance Observatory

The UNESCO-led Global AI Ethics and Governance Observatory provides a platform for sharing best practices in AI governance.

Real-life example

Countries like the UK and France have adopted AI ethics frameworks inspired by UNESCO’s recommendations, promoting ethical AI practices in public sectors. These frameworks include guidelines on transparency, accountability, and ethical use of AI technologies in public services.

Challenges and considerations

Implementing artificial intelligence (AI) in public policy presents several challenges:

  • Ethical dilemmas: Balancing innovation with ethical considerations is a significant challenge. Policymakers must navigate issues like bias, privacy, and accountability.
    For example, in the deployment of AI for surveillance, the need for security must be balanced with citizens’ privacy rights.
  • Regulatory frameworks: Establishing comprehensive AI ethics policies and regulatory frameworks that adapt to rapidly evolving technologies is crucial. The absence of such frameworks can lead to unregulated AI applications, posing risks to public safety and ethical standards.
  • Public trust: Building and maintaining public trust in AI systems requires transparency, accountability, and consistent ethical practices. Public awareness campaigns and educational programmes can help bridge the knowledge gap and build trust.
  • Digital divide: Addressing the digital divide and ensuring equitable access to AI technologies is essential to avoid exacerbating existing inequalities. Efforts should be made to provide AI literacy and access to marginalised communities to ensure inclusivity.
  • Bias in AI: Instances like biased facial recognition systems highlight the need for robust AI ethics.
    For example, a study by MIT Media Lab found that facial recognition software from major tech companies had higher error rates for darker-skinned individuals, emphasising the need for fair and unbiased AI systems. Addressing these biases requires diverse training data and continuous monitoring.
  • Privacy concerns: The Cambridge Analytica scandal underscored the importance of data protection and privacy in AI. Implementing strict data governance policies is vital to prevent misuse of personal data. In India, this translates to aligning AI applications with the forthcoming Personal Data Protection Bill.

Recommendations and future directions

To address the ethical challenges of AI in public policy, the following recommendations are essential:

  • Develop comprehensive AI ethics policies: Governments should create and enforce policies that prioritise AI and ethics. These policies should be dynamic and adaptable to technological advancements, ensuring they remain relevant.
  • Enhance transparency and accountability: Implement mechanisms to ensure AI systems are transparent and accountable. This includes clear documentation of AI decision-making processes and establishing accountability frameworks.
  • Promote public engagement: Engage the public in discussions about AI ethics to build trust and ensure diverse perspectives are considered. This can be done through public consultations, workshops, and online platforms.
  • Invest in ethical AI research: Support research initiatives focused on developing ethical AI technologies. This includes funding interdisciplinary research and collaboration between technologists, ethicists, and policymakers.
  • Public engagement: Initiatives like AI town halls and public consultations can help gather input from diverse stakeholders, ensuring AI policy decisions reflect societal values. Public engagement not only builds trust but also enhances the inclusivity and acceptance of AI technologies.
  • Ethical AI research: Governments and academic institutions should invest in interdisciplinary research to explore the ethical implications of AI.
    For instance, the AI Ethics Lab at Harvard University conducts research on AI’s societal impacts, providing valuable insights for policymakers. Similar initiatives can be fostered in India to address local ethical concerns and develop culturally relevant solutions.


The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in public policy offers immense potential but requires careful consideration of ethical principles. By adhering to robust AI ethics frameworks, engaging the public, and promoting transparency, policymakers can harness the benefits of AI while safeguarding public interests. The need for highly qualified and skilled policymakers is evident, highlighting the importance of formal education in this field. If you are interested in becoming part of the public policy space, consider pursuing a Master of Public Policy or Post Graduate Programme in Public Policy.

Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) OR Post Graduate Programme (PGP) in Public Policy

India boasts a diverse array of Public Policy colleges, each offering two principal types of programmes. Choosing the right one for your aspirations is essential.

Master’s in Public Policy (MPP)
The Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) programme explores the nuances of government policies and their societal impacts. It equips students with a solid foundation for implementing, analysing, and evaluating public policies. Graduates frequently pursue careers in government, nonprofits, or international organisations

Post Graduate Programme (PGP) in Public Policy
The Post Graduate Programme (PGP) in Public Policy in India is designed to enhance students’ policy-making skills and the effective implementation of public policies. This programme prepares students for a variety of roles in the field. The curriculum encompasses subjects such as economics, political science, and law, emphasising analytical skills and research methodologies. Graduates are well-prepared to assess policy issues and develop evidence-based solutions.

When selecting your programme, it is crucial to consider the admission criteria and the career opportunities each one offers. Although both programmes are extremely popular, the Indian School of Public Policy (ISPP) has a fair edge over the other. Why? You might wonder. 

PDM by the Indian School of Public Policy (ISPP)

ISPP aims to cultivate a new generation of policy leaders for India and its neighbouring regions. Its flagship programme in Public Policy, Design & Management (PDM), is geared towards individuals eager to make a significant impact in the Public Policy sector.

The PDM curriculum offers a comprehensive understanding of Public Policy, integrating design and management principles to develop proficient systems thinkers and policy executives. 

How? Through the following aspects of the programme – 

Harris School of Public Policy Credential

The Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago offers ISPP scholars a Credential in Public Policy and International Development through workshops and lectures conducted by faculty, practitioners, and experts from the University of Chicago.

Immersive Learning Engagement (ILE)

Immersive Learning Engagement (ILE) provides ISPP scholars with hands-on experience through real-time projects guided by client organisation leads. Scholars have collaborated with E&Y, Sattva, NITI Aayog, and the Population Foundation of India, among others.

Interactive Labs

  • Writing and Communication Lab – The Writing and Communication Lab at ISPP offers apprentice-style training to develop scholars’ skills in research, scientific writing, and communication. It supports effective communication in development, corporate, and academic settings, and collaborates with the Careers team for career development.
  • Antarang Leadership Lab (ALL) – The Antarang Leadership Lab (ALL) provides an experiential space for scholars to engage in conversations relevant to their personal development as leaders. It offers practical experience to build leadership skills, aiming to enhance self-awareness and understanding of their surroundings.
  • Policy Praxis Lab (PPL) – The Policy Praxis Lab trains scholars to understand and make public policy work for the public through policy exercises, thought experiments, and real-life case studies. It covers diverse policy-related questions and aims to master ethical policy objectives.
  • Policy Case Consulting Workshop – The Policy Case Consulting Workshop combines course concepts to analyse and train for case study interviews. It blends discussions and lectures with theoretical and practical frameworks for case study analysis and data skills training.
  • Quant Lab – The Quant Lab equips scholars with data-handling tools in Excel, covering data analysis, visualisation, cleaning, and presentation. Scholars learn to handle qualitative and quantitative variables, make samples, test hypotheses, and run regressions.

Learn more about the PDM curriculum.

Watch this video to understand more about the admissions process, at ISPP!

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What are the ethical points of AI?

The ethical points of AI include transparency, accountability, fairness and non-discrimination, privacy and data protection, and safety and reliability.

What is the ethical issue of AI?

Ethical issues in AI use involve bias and discrimination, privacy concerns, lack of transparency, accountability, and the socio-economic impact on employment.

What is AI bias and ethics?

AI bias occurs when AI systems make unfair decisions due to biased data or algorithms. Ethical considerations include ensuring data quality, algorithmic fairness, continuous monitoring, and transparency.

What is the ethics of AI writing?

The ethics of AI writing involve ensuring the generated content is accurate and unbiased, respects intellectual property, and does not mislead or harm users.