Could AI ever replace governments? | BBC Ideas


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. Thanks for watching. Don’t forget to subscribe and click the bell to receive notifications for new videos. See you again soon!

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Comments

  1. AI shouldn't replace human lead governments, but an advanced governmental "Advisory Intelligence" (see what I did there) whose process is understood and whose recommendations are made public and can be debated openly before being enacted…..yeah, I would be okay with that.

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