AI is powering politics- but it could also reboot democracy

The YouTube clip of David Bowie being interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight in 1999 is the one I watch the most frequently.

AI is powering politics- but it could also reboot democracy
AI is powering politics- but it could also reboot democracy

Bowie states, “I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg, in terms of what the internet might achieve. I believe that the potential impact of the internet on society, both positive and negative, is unfathomable. I believe something thrilling and scary is about to happen.”

Paxman sneers, “It’s just a tool, isn’t it?” Bowie is adamant that “it’s an alien life form.” “Does Mars have life? Yes, and it just touched down here.”

After almost 25 years, the reverse has occurred: truth and trust have been undermined, democracy has not been updated for the digital age, and tensions between those in positions of authority and those who elect them are at an all-time high.

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We are currently witnessing the growth of generative AI, and as is to be expected, the reaction has been a mix of frenzy and hope.The panic over killer robots runs the risk of hiding the true societal effects that industrial revolutions invariably have, separating winners and losers and upending lifestyles in more covert and occasionally harmful ways. But if we put the correct restraints in place, the AI revolution offers hope for democracy.

In ten years, our information ecosystems might be significantly improved to promote democratic decision-making if we make AI work for democracy. We could teach AI to prioritize verified knowledge and serve it in ways that increase people’s access to even the most complex information.

Because they have figured out new ways to involve the public in decision-making, politicians might be more trusted to act in the public’s best interests. AI citizens’ assemblies could guide individuals and elected officials through the trade-offs necessary to address the major issues. These ideas are not completely absurd.

One such technology is Polis, which was created in the US and is mostly used in Taiwan to create regulations for Uber. Polis, which appears straightforward, maps people’s opinions in accordance with agreement rather than disagreement and provides opportunities for people to propose policy proposals.

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For the 2021 integrated review of security, defense, development, and foreign policy in the UK, Demos has collaborated with the Cabinet Office on Polis projects to involve professionals and the public. In the Selby and Ainsty byelection in July, independent candidate Andrew Gray dubbed himself the first AI-powered politician and said he used it to fuel all his proposals.

We could mend the rift between the state and the citizenry in ten years. It might make it easier for MPs and their constituents to communicate, allowing for the addition of aspects of direct democracy to our representative system.

Additionally, AI might make it possible to focus public services, interventions, and provide more personalized support for individuals by making better use of citizen data. AI might be used to direct people toward government assistance.

However, this will only occur if we force it to. Because investors are currently driving the development of the technology in ways that threaten to further erode democracy. This is in part because talent, expertise, and infrastructure follow the money rather than going to areas where they could be used for the common good.

If you count the AI white paper that was released earlier this year, there are currently four legislative processes pertaining to digital under progress, according to Labour peer Jim Knight, who has been closely involved with the most recent digital measures passing through parliament.

None of them specifically state preserving or advancing democracy as a goal. Instead, they are worried about data security, digital marketplaces, and online safety. The issue of democracy is the big one.

Without specifically concentrating on the potential for AI to strengthen democracy or at the very least not harm it, it will most likely corrupt. The spread of unreliable information will further erode trust.

But if we don’t explicitly modernize our democracy to include more participatory activities that these technologies could make possible, we’ll be left with a system that’s hundreds of years old and trying to govern in a world that operates in entirely different ways and at entirely different speeds.

We must gain knowledge this moment.

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