Emerging Technologies and India’s G20 Presidency
India is going to preside over the G20 grouping in 2023; a group of nations which are economically and technologically developed and control the global economy to a very large extent. One of the critical agendas that India can set the ball rolling is in the domain of emerging technologies.
Emerging Technologies are pervasive in today’s scenario. They are novel and highly specialized. From National security perspective to the diplomatic realm, it is a part of key conversations across the globe. One of the underlying reasons for rising geopolitical tensions amongst nations has been this critical domain. Considering its primacy and importance in social, political, economic and diplomatic realm, it is intended that India will help coalesce like-minded nations to govern the use and regulate emerging technologies.
New technologies are being developed—and, old technologies are being employed in innovative ways—that forces nations to re-examine previous notions of what behaviours are judged as provocative or reassuring. Emerging technologies, such as AI, Quantum Computing, space, autonomy and uncrewed systems, are introducing new dynamics. These altered dynamics are bringing new considerations to classic problems, possess the potential to exacerbate tensions, and actively challenge policymakers to keep pace with rapid innovation trends. Most concerning, however, is that these technological changes are occurring within the context of an increasingly competitive world.
There is increasingly a chasm that is being built between democracies and authoritarian regimes and the way they are using technologies to outdo each other is worrying. While the world woke up to the importance of leveraging technology during the pandemic, India has quietly shown the world the power of an inclusive citizen-centric innovation framework. Thanks to the success of Digital India, leadership in this sphere is our lasting legacy to the world. As rules of a new digital world are framed, India’s G20 presidency for 2023 will offer us a platform to showcase our success story of ‘best known practices’ that others can learn from. A framework to govern the use of such technologies,along with ensuring that data flows and collaboration isn’t affected, needs to be jointly discussed with like-minded nations to prevent rogue elements from mishandling these new tools and technologies to infringe on citizen’s rights, escalate conflicts between states, etc.
A key aspect of this alliance if India undertakes dialogue and partnership lead in this context would be to secure collaboration, cooperation and supply chains in this realm which have become fragmented post-Covid. To ensure redundance and resilience in the supply chains which have become regionalised post the pandemic, India could take the lead and ensure that technology plays an important role in ensuring business continuity. Not only will it help de-risk supply chains but ensure a critical element of globalisation stays afloat along with cross border data flows which benefit the developing nations.
Another key aspect is Cyber Security and its practices that India can drive at this forum. The understanding and importance of it remains a work in practice, albeit limited. New norms in byber security at this forum driven by India will provide an impetus to a robust digital economy for the world. It will also prevent the whole structure/edifice on which global economy today runs to be secure from multiple vulnerabilities and malicious activities. The security and integrity of this system will remain paramount. The next financial crisis can potentially occur not just because of financial mismanagement as seen in the 2008 financial crisis. Tomorrow’s crises will result from a debilitating cyber-attack on financial infrastructure and critical business systems like banks, stock markets and payment systems.
The G20, which brings together leading digital and industrial powers, therefore has a self-interest in securing critical infrastructure.
Rapid digitisation across the sectors of the economy has bought sharp focus on emerging technologies and this needs to be positioned wholistically so that appropriate use of tech can be used to secure the economy and its various facets. A rising technology powerhouse – India – has the chance to reshape multiple facets and drive conversation in this realm at a foreign policy level. Facilitating shared frameworks that are inclusive, transparent and fair to use emerging tech such as AI, M2M technologies, Quantum, Cyber physical systems etc. is the need of the hour.