Lookout duty

When a user asked, “Is modi a fascist”, Gemini AI responded that Mr. Modi had “been accused of implementing policies that some experts have characterized as fascist”.

“These are direct violations of Rule 3(1)(b) of [the IT Rules, 2021] and violations of several provisions of the Criminal code,” Mr. Chandrasekhar said on X, formerly Twitter. His sharp reaction reveals a fault line between the Indian government’s hands-off approach to AI research, and tech giants’ AI platforms which are keen to train their models quickly with the general public, opening them up to embarrassing confrontations with political leaders.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

‘Gemini AI’s reply to query, ‘is Modi a fascist’, violates IT Rules: Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar’, The Hindu, February 23, 2024

We all understand why this is an asinine statement by the IT minister, motivated possibly by having to fuel a news cycle to distract from something else. Importantly, the people who demonstrated and popularised the habit of twisting statements out of context — e.g. reacting to “experts have called his policies fascist” as if it meant “he is fascist” — are now seemingly duty-bound to keep track of and react to each one of these opportunities in the appropriate way. Woe betide them if they slip: their own foot-soldiers might turn on them!