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September 26, 2023 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm

Children, a key yet missed demographic in AI regulation

GS 1 (Society & Social Issues) & GS 3 (Science & Technology)

What is Artificial Intelligence?

In simple terms, Artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. Machines today can learn from experience, adapt to new inputs, and even perform human-like tasks with help from artificial intelligence (AI).

Artificial intelligence examples today, from chess-playing computers to self-driving cars, are heavily based on deep learning and natural language processing.

Applications of Artificial Intelligence

Why in the News?

India is to host the first-ever global summit on Artificial Intelligence (AI) this October. Additionally, as the Chair of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), India will also be hosting the GPAI global summit in December.

Importance of AI on Indian Economy

These events suggest the strategic importance of AI, as it is projected to add $500 billion to India’s economy by 2025, accounting for 10% of the country’s target GDP.

Ethics in AI: An attempt to be a leader of the Global South

Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently called for a global framework on the ethical expansion of AI. Given the sheer volume of data that India can generate, it has an opportunity to set a policy example for the Global South.

There is also a need to develop balance between AI’s developmental potential against its concomitant risks.

One area where India can assume leadership is how regulators address children and adolescents who are a critical (yet less understood) demographic in this context.

The nature of digital services means that many cutting-edge AI deployments are not designed specifically for children but are nevertheless accessed by them.

The governance challenges: AI Ethics principles

  1. Regulation will have to align incentives to reduce issues of addiction, mental health, and overall safety.
  2. Data hungry AI-based digital services can readily deploy opaque algorithms and dark patterns to exploit impressionable young people.
  3. Among other things this can lead to tech-based distortions of ideal physical appearance(s) which can trigger body image issues.
  4. Other malicious threats emerging from AI include misinformation, radicalisation, cyberbullying, sexual grooming, and doxxing.

The balance between parenting and publishing

The next generation of digital nagriks must also grapple with the indirect effects of their families’ online activities.

Enthusiastic ‘sharents’ regularly post photos and videos about their children online to document their journeys through parenthood.

While moving into adolescence we must equip young people with tools to manage the unintended consequences. For instance, AI-powered deep fake capabilities can be misused to target young people wherein bad actors create morphed sexually explicit depictions and distribute them online.

AI and its misuse in intersectional identities

Beyond this, India is a melting pot of intersectional identities across gender, caste, tribal identity, religion, and linguistic heritage. Such issues of bias and discrimination can impact children and adolescents who belong to marginalised communities.

The silence of India’s Data Protection Law on Children’s safety

AI regulation must improve upon India’s approach to children under India’s newly minted data protection law.

The data protection framework’s current approach to children is misaligned with India’s digital realities.

It transfers an inordinate burden on parents to protect their children’s interests and does not facilitate safe platform operations and/or platform design.

Imbibing International Best Practices

International best practices can assist Indian regulation to identify standards and principles that facilitate safer AI deployments.

  1. UNICEF’s guidance for policymakers on AI and children identifies nine requirements for child-Centered AI which draws on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (India is a signatory).
  2. California’s Age-Appropriate Design Code Act serves as an interesting template. The Californian code pushes for transparency to ensure that digital services configure default privacy settings; assess whether algorithms, data collection, or targeted advertising systems harm children; and use clear, age-appropriate language for user-facing information.
  3. Indian authorities should encourage research which collects evidence on the benefits and risks of AI for India’s children and adolescents. This should serve as a baseline to work towards an Indian Age-Appropriate Design Code for AI.

Other Issues with AI regulations concerning children

  1. Lastly, better institutions will help shift regulation away from top-down safety protocols which place undue burdens on parents.
  2. Mechanisms of regular dialogue with children will help incorporate their inputs on the benefits and the threats they face when interacting with AI-based digital services.
  3. An institution similar to Australia’s Online Safety Youth Advisory Council which comprises people between the ages of 13-24 years could be an interesting approach.
  4. Such institutions will assist regulation to become more responsive to the threats young people face when interacting with AI systems, while preserving the benefits that they derive from digital services.


The fast-evolving nature of AI means that regulation should avoid prescriptions and instead embrace standards, strong institutions, and best practices which imbue (instill) openness, trust, and accountability.

Prelims Questions

  1. Artificial Intelligence & its applicability in various fields
  2. International Regulations & Institutions and their origin

Mains Questions

   1.Discuss how the ethical issues need to be addressed while embracing AI as a developmental tool? (150 Words) 10 Marks

   2.Explain what the Data Protection Law in India can learn from International best practices to     protect the interest of our children while preserving the benefits of AI ? (150 Words) 10 Marks


September 26, 2023
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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