Start of the Indo-German cooperation on AI standardisation


Standards and specifications play an important role in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). They provide an essential basis for the further development of the technology. At the same time, they promote the responsible use of AI systems and increase consumer protection. On 29 March 2022, an expert exchange kicked off the Indo-German cooperation in this area. Within the framework of the Indo-German Working Group on Quality Infrastructure (QI), the aim is to establish a joint understanding of AI standardisation approaches and concepts.

Gerhild Roth (BMWK) and Nidhi Khare (MoCAF&PD) emphasise the potential of AI for the economy and society. © GPQI-GIZ

What does Artificial Intelligence stand for?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a fast-evolving family of technologies that can bring a wide array of economic and societal benefits. AI systems can generate outputs such as content, predictions, recommendations or decisions for a given set of human-defined objectives. In this way, they influence the environment they interact with – be it in a physical or digital dimension. In many respects, AI is already part of our everyday lives, for example in travel booking, navigation, advertisement or music and video streaming. AI systems can be designed to operate with varying levels of autonomy. This poses several ethical and legal questions, despite all its benefits.


Standards and specifications play a key role for the secure and reliable functioning of AI applications. They form the basis for trust in their technical systems and processes, and foster their reliability, implementation, and continued development – especially by small and medium enterprises (SMEs).


Indo-German cooperation on AI within GPQI

Cooperation on AI is anchored in the Work Plan 2022 of the Indo-German Working Group on Quality Infrastructure. On 29 March 2022, a first expert exchange on this topic took place. It was jointly organised with the German Institute for Standardization (DIN), the German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies of DIN and VDE (DKE) and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). Both sides presented the status quo of AI standardisation in Germany/the European Union and India and discussed aspects of bilateral and international cooperation.


Gerhild Roth from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) emphasised that AI is a decisive factor for the competitiveness of the German industry. At the same time, she stressed the responsible use of AI systems. The development of AI with a strong focus on the common good is important for Germany. Nidhi Khare from the Indian Department of Consumer Affairs (MoCAF&PD) highlighted that India is focused on leveraging the transformative technologies to ensure social and inclusive growth. In particular, AI has the potential to solve social challenges in areas such as agriculture, health and education. Both sides welcomed the expert exchange on this important topic only shortly after the signing of the Work Plan 2022.


AI standardisation approaches and concepts at international level

Katherina Sehnert from DIN presented the “German Standardization Roadmap on Artificial Intelligence”, which was developed by DIN and DKE as well as approximately 300 experts. The roadmap implements the German government's AI strategy in the field of standardisation. After the publication of the first edition in 2020, the second edition is envisaged for the end of 2022. The second edition builds upon the recommendations and action items of the first edition and sets new priorities. It will formulate recommendations for action in new thematic areas, e.g. financial services, environment and energy.


Sebastian Hallensleben from DKE provided insights into the developments of AI standardisation at international and European level. Among other things, he elaborated on the planned AI Act by the European Commission, which forms an essential basis for European standardisation work on AI. The AI Act will represent a comprehensive legal framework for AI and shall already enter into force in 2025.


Reena Garg from BIS presented current priorities in AI standardisation in India. Based on the national AI strategy #AIFORALL (Part 1, Part 2) that was developed by NITI Aayog, the public policy think tank of the Indian government, BIS develops standards for the key areas. These include healthcare, agriculture, education, smart cities, infrastructure, as well as smart mobility and transportation. Garg emphasised the relevance of AI ethics and international standards that are accessible to all.


Industry perspectives on standardisation for AI applications

Asna Siddiqui from the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) stressed that there is a great need for standards for various AI use cases. Siddiqui presented the Responsible AI Maturity Assessment Tool, which is currently being developed by NASSCOM. It aims to support companies in assessing their AI development status and thus provides useful information for companies to increase their capabilities accordingly.


Uday Bonu from SAP SE provided insights into the dynamic development of AI and the resulting opportunities for the industry. He welcomed the Indo-German cooperation on AI standardisation within the Working Group. According to him, AI standards that are developed in collaboration with industry, standards bodies and government institutions are important to ensure the benefits of AI to society.


In two subsequent discussion rounds, the experts emphasised the importance to create adequate framework conditions that ensure the responsible use of AI. This includes, for example, the development of indicators to quantify the implementation of ethical AI in industry. A central point of discussion was the role of use cases in promoting AI standardisation, such as of high-risk AI applications.


Next steps for Indo-German collaboration

The expert exchange showed that India and Germany share common views and interests in many aspects of AI standardisation. Both sides agreed to continue the collaboration within the framework of the Indo-German Working Group on QI and to explore issues of joint interest, both at bilateral and international level. These may include, for example, the regulation and certification of AI.


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