India confronts Google over Gemini AI tool’s ‘fascist Modi’ responses

A response from Google’s AI platform suggesting that some experts believe the policies of the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, polices to be “fascist” has provoked a confrontation between the company and the government.

The journalist Arnab Ray last week put the question as to whether Modi was a fascist to Google’s generative AI platform, Gemini. He received the answer that Modi was “accused of implementing policies some experts have characterized as fascist”.

Gemini said the reasons for this characterisation were the ruling party’s “Hindu nationalist ideology, its crackdown on dissent and its use of violence against religious minorities”.

Ray keyed in similar prompts on the former US president Donald Trump and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and received more benign answers.

For Trump the answer was “elections are a complex topic with fast changing information. To make sure you have the most accurate information, try Google Search.” For Zelenksiy, it said it was “a complex and highly contested question, with no simple answer”. It added: “It’s crucial to approach this topic with nuance and consider various perspectives.”

When the journalist posted the screenshots on X, another person in the media was so annoyed with Gemini’s answer on Modi that he reposted it and urged the junior information technology minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar to take note of what he described as the “downright malicious” response.

Chandrasekhar promptly accused Google of violating India’s laws on information technology. He wrote on X that the unreliability of AI platforms could not be used as an excuse for them to be considered exempt from Indian laws.

“The Government has said this before – I repeat for attention of @GoogleIndia … Our Digital Nagriks (citizens) are NOT to be experimented on with “unreliable” platforms/algos/model …`Sorry Unreliable’ does not exempt from the law,” he said.

Google replied by saying it had addressed the problem and that it was working to improve the system.

“Gemini is built as a creativity and productivity tool and may not always be reliable, especially when it comes to responding to some prompts about current events, political topics, or evolving news,” Google said in a statement.

Last week, X said the government had ordered it to take down posts expressing support for farmers in north India who are demanding higher prices for their crops. X said it had complied with the orders but did not agree with them as they curtailed freedom of expression.

The latest clash is part of an ongoing conflict between big technology firms and the Indian government, which has made clear that it will not tolerate what it sees as “anti-Indian” content.

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