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  • Here's a thought experiment...

  • could artificial intelligence govern us?

  • Populism and disinformation are on the rise, and politics across the

  • world seems to be dominated by emotions and strongman personalities.

  • Leaders often seem to be more interested in short-term

  • political gains, then the long-term needs of their electorate.

  • But could machines do a better job?

  • Imagine a world where decisions are made based on impartial

  • facts and data.

  • Where the decision makers are unconcerned by scandals,

  • immune to corruption and have no vested interest in maintaining

  • their popularity.

  • A world where climate change is a more pressing issue

  • than the results of the latest focus group.

  • And where global leaders don't risk instigating World War Three,

  • by ranting on Twitter at 02:00AM.

  • In fact, scientists believe there are no plausible circumstances in which

  • machines would or could, replace governments entirely.

  • While a machine might be able to make incredibly complex calculations,

  • it would have no objective concept of right and wrong,

  • no definitive way of deciding what's best.

  • For example, it might be able to objectively analyse the financial

  • cost of keeping someone alive through medical treatment,

  • but it cannot quantify whether the human life is worth that cost.

  • And while you could argue our current politicians may not be subject

  • to enough accountability,

  • it would be impossible to hold a machine accountable for its mistakes.

  • After all, what do you do when a machine misbehaves?

  • Tell its motherboard?

  • It's not quite the Terminator, but perhaps the biggest risk

  • in the medium term, is the use of lethal automated weapons.

  • While there is currently human oversight, if drones were ever

  • authorised to make life or death decisions, one mistake could trigger

  • an automatic reaction and cause an accidental flash war.

  • Which frankly sounds a tad more terrifying than Arnie stealing

  • your clothes, boots and motorcycle.

  • As hard as it might be to believe, technology which surpasses

  • human intelligence is decades if not centuries away.

  • But even if it existed, scientists argue that it would be no more useful

  • in government than the world's most intelligent human.

  • Instead, it is far more likely that the use of artificial intelligence

  • in government will continue on its current trajectory.

  • As an aid in decision making, with humans having ultimate power.

  • AI is already being used to assist in deciding who gets grants or benefits,

  • in healthcare and policing.

  • But think of it like VAR, with a human being acting as the referee.

  • Of course as machines are programmed by humans and their conclusions used

  • to support human decisions, they can be susceptible

  • to human bias, and their findings can be used selectively.

  • Machines learn from data, which is gathered from the world we live in,

  • as opposed to the world we'd like to live in.

  • In places like the US,

  • where African-Americans are often disproportionately and,

  • in some cases, lethally targeted by the police,

  • predictive policing could interpret existing data,

  • to potentially perpetuate those discriminatory patterns.

  • Sadly, it would seem that machine learning is no more equipped than

  • human beings to make big ethical calls.

  • AI would not be an infallible replacement for flawed human beings.

  • How we use AI to govern,

  • whether or not it is manipulated or how mistakes are made,

  • are all down to human beings themselves.

  • In short, AI is much more human than we ever realised.

  • Which is perhaps the scariest notion of all.

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  • See you again soon!

Here's a thought experiment...

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What if robots were in charge of the world? | BBC Ideas

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