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Regulation of innovators needs balance, says Google’s Pichai

At a time when India is looking to tighten the regulatory regime around Big Tech, Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive Officer, Google stressed on striking a balance between robust regulation and allowing the tech companies to do what they do best – innovate.

Speaking at the ‘Google for India’ event — where the tech giant launched a slew of products and services for India — Pichai said technology is exponentially expanding and touching lives of people around the world and the moment calls for “responsible and balanced” regulation.

“Given the scale and technology leadership it (India) will have, it is important to make sure you are balancing, putting in safeguards for people. You’re creating an innovative framework, so that companies can innovate on top of a certainty in the legal framework. I think it is an important moment in time. India will also be a big export economy. It will benefit from an open and connected Internet and getting that balance right will be important,” he said.

He said start-ups in India can easily scale up with the right policies and participation of Big Tech including Google. “There is no better time to do a start-up than the current moment even though we are working through a macro economic moment like this…I am very bullish about it,” he said.

Legislative framework

Pichai’s comments came at a time when both the draft Telecom Bill and draft Digital Personal Data Protection Bill are in different stages of formulation. Simultaneously, different parliamentary standing committees have recommended stricter policing regimes for Big Tech.

Speaking on the subject, Union IT and Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the government is expecting to get Digital Personal Data Protection Bill and Telecommunication Bill passed in the Monsoon Session of parliament. Vaishnaw said another Bill on Digital India Act will also be floated in a month for public consultation.

Seize AI opportunity

Meanwhile, Pichai said that Google was working to “seize the opportunity in artificial intelligence (AI) globally”, balancing the need to be bold with innovation and responsible in its approach. “I’m excited to see the ways India will contribute to breakthroughs in AI that could benefit over a billion people in India, and more around the world,” he said.

Pichai said he was also here to see progress being made from the $10 billion (announced in 2020), 10-year India Digitisation Fund (IDF), and share new ways Google is helping to advance India’s digital future at the Google for India event.

“That includes our efforts to build a single, unified AI model that will be capable of handling over 100 Indian languages across speech and text – part of our global effort to bring the world’s 1,000 most-spoken languages online, and to help people access knowledge and information in their preferred language,” Pichai added.

Google is also supporting a new, multidisciplinary center for responsible AI with IIT Madras with a grant of $1 million.

Apart from that the California-based company also said it will focus on investing in women-led early-stage startups as part of its IDF and announced several projects powered by AI, including speech technology, voice and video search.

The company announced a collaboration with Indian Institute of Science to collect speech data from 773 districts across India to fine-tune its language translation and search technology.

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