The Pnyx: On AI and Politics

Joshua Scheutz
Staff Writer

A recent poll indicated that about one in four Europeans would prefer artificial intelligence to make political decisions, as opposed to politicians. In some European countries, the percentage came close to half.

This is an interesting development. I think that if Americans were asked this question, they might respond at about the same rate. Younger people, being more comfortable with technology and more disdainful of the political system, would likely be more enthusiastic in their support. 

It’s easy to understand why this is the case. Politicians in the West have largely lost the trust of their constituents, not without good cause. In addition, people ascribe almost supernatural qualities to technology and lionize tech companies, with some exceptions. 

So can politics be automated? If only it were that simple. Artificial intelligence can be helpful in politics, as it is or has the potential to be in almost any field, but its primary use should be as a tool, at least for now. The technology to automate an entire political system simply does not exist as of yet, and will likely not exist for a long time into the future.

Moreover, even if we get artificial intelligence to match human intellect, there is no surefire way to protect it from human biases, especially if the data that the program is working with already has biases. 

That doesn’t mean that AI has no place in politics. It just means that automating the political system is as of yet an unfeasible and dangerous proposition. 

Looks like Washington can breathe easy. Their jobs won’t be at risk of automation, at least for now.

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