AI will drive the societies of the future. Will the governed consent?

robots 19

(Franck V., Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Michael Mayernick, Co-founder, Spinnakr


Western democracies are confronted with collapsing trust in their governments and surging nationalist movements. These phenomena have a particularly cruel timing, occurring contemporaneously with the rise of complex, global problems that urgently require coordinated, collective action.

As the world becomes increasingly complicated and interconnected, the decisions of governments, corporations, and large institutions have become less accessible to the average citizen. Whether in relation to data privacy, climate change, or automation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, citizens are being asked to accept decisions made by experts whose knowledge they can’t match or evaluate. The average citizen, whose voice and consent was once proclaimed as essential to the functioning of democracy and legitimized political power, is now being asked to yield more authority to experts. And the governed aren’t thrilled by it.

In 2018, the Edelman Trust Barometer found (for the first time in its 17-year history) a global decline in trust across all four major social institutions: business, media, government and NGOs. In the United States, 53% agreed with the statement that “everyday Americans understand what the government should do better than the so-called ‘experts’.”

2018 Edelman Trust Barometer

Amid the heat of Brexit in the UK, Justice Secretary and ‘Leave’ advocate Michael Gove echoed these feelings, saying “the people of this country have had enough of experts…from organizations with acronyms saying that they know what is best”. In France, National Front presidential candidate Marie Le Pen echoed this resentment, stating “the people have stopped listening to [the elites]… the people want to determine their futures”.

Citizens may be responding to something more fundamental than resentment over immigration or the rise of inequality. The broad reaction against the many forms of expertise reveals a broken promise of the political system itself. The basic democratic contract, identified Hegel, Rousseau and Fukuyama, was that governing systems would offer recognition of the individual in exchange for their consent to be governed. Fukuyama, channelling Hegel, wrote “liberal society is a reciprocal and equal agreement among citizens to mutually recognize each other”.

AI is accelerating alienation

Artificial intelligence will drive future policy decision-making. Backed by complex machines studying complex social phenomena, government action will become even more impenetrable and inscrutable for the people most affected by a changing world. As much as the average citizen may resist giving up political authority to a panel of climate scientists, how will they react to healthcare decisions being made by AI algorithms, or factories closing based on computer simulations? The outbreak of rebellions against the expert class which has characterized US and European politics will likely accelerate.

How can governance itself work with and for the governed, when innovation and complexity has put understanding out of the reach of so many?

Tech innovation requires social innovation

A harmonious political future requires new approaches to using technology and AI not just to innovate, but also to explain and involve average citizenry in the governing process, which would return to the governed a sense of pride and investment in their governing systems. Even as we are confronted by greater and greater challenges, we must acknowledge the right of the governed to feel seen by the systems which exercise power over them.

New modes of trust and consent are possible. Deliberative democracy unites the role of the expert and the average citizen by selecting people at random to serve in a type of issue jury pools, where an individual is asked to study a single issue and render a judgement on behalf of the whole polis. In liquid democracy, citizens can proxy their vote to people in their immediate circle whom they trust on a specific issue. Those votes can subsequently be passed on to individuals of greater and greater expertise, but all the while maintaining relatable links from one person to another. A return to greater federalism and the creation of more experimental frontier zones would encourage citizens to ‘vote with their feet’ and choose between different systems while potentially creating new models.

Socializing AI systems

Beyond exploring new models, advanced new policy-making tools will also require rethinking popular involvement in decision-making. Strong social cohesion and meaningful democratic consent will require a robust commitment from leaders to transparency and engagement, as technology and artificial intelligence increasingly play roles in decisions around economics, employment, healthcare and justice.

Specifically, these systems should strive for:

– Continuous input from voters, from beginning to end, such that their participation is viewed as constitutive to the systems themselves

– A commitment to explainability for the AI behind these decisions – which is a challenge with current technology

– A reinvigorated rights framework to establish boundaries and limits for any automated systems or decisions

Powerful new technologies are already finding their way into our daily lives, often in ways that are poorly understood or not fully recognized by most people. Increasingly, they will also be features of how critical decisions are made in societies. If we want the citizens of the future to trust their governments and the systems that will help us tackle the grand challenges facing humanity, we need systems that citizens can see themselves in. Achieving that will require new approaches. But the resulting alignment between governance and the governed could abate current political frictions and unlock the full potential of man and machine.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

This is how we can make a global green recovery – that also boosts the economy

Global Report on Food Crises reveals scope of food crises as COVID-19 poses new risks to vulnerable countries

The European Green Deal sets out how to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, boosting the economy, improving people’s health and quality of life, caring for nature, and leaving no one behind

The dark side of Diwali, festival of lights

Crimea: The last bloodless secession of a Ukraine region?

It takes far too long for a rare disease to be diagnosed. Here’s how that can change

More than one billion people do not have access to electricity. What will it take to get them connected?

GSMA head urges regulators to help Europe regain leadership

COVID-19 pandemic: The war inside our heads

Two shipwrecks add to ‘alarming increase’ in migrant deaths off Libya coast: IOM

CO2 emissions around the world

Guinea-Bissau spotlights threats of organized crime, Sahel terrorism in speech to UN Assembly

Drinking water: new plans to improve tap water quality and cut plastic litter

Climate finance for developing countries reached USD 71 billion in 2017

Coronavirus update: UN scales back major conference

How three US cities are using data to end homelessness

Here’s how we can rethink the way we eat meat

6 ways social innovators are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

Bigotry makes politicians ‘complicit in the violence that follows’ : UN independent experts

Key economic forum in Russia: New technology a ‘vector of hope’ but also ‘a source of fear’ says Guterres

DR Congo: Ebola response resumes despite ‘risky environment’

‘Our concern now is the southern hemisphere’ – COVID Action Platform convenes leaders on the challenges ahead

COP21 Paris agreement: a non legally-binding climate pact won’t stop effectively global warming while EU’s Cañete throws hardest part to next Commission

Afghanistan: Civilian casualties exceed 10,000 for sixth straight year

Five ways individuals can help save the oceans

UN unveils global influenza strategy to prevent ‘real’ threat of pandemic

UN Envoy urges Burundi leaders to ‘seize opportunities for national unity and peace’

5 lessons for the future success of virtual and augmented reality

‘Concerted effort’ must be made to help 600 million-plus adolescent girls realize full potential: Guterres

How the coronavirus market turmoil compares to 2008 – and what we can do

UN policewoman recognized for ‘speaking up and speaking out’ on behalf of the vulnerable

Antitrust: Commission sends Statement of Objections to O2 CZ, CETIN and T-Mobile CZ for their network sharing agreement

The challenge to be a good healthcare professional

Long-term exposure to air pollution is like smoking a pack of cigarettes a day

Health without borders: How we can Improve International Collaboration in Health Care

GSMA Announces First Keynote Speakers for 2019 “MWC Los Angeles, in Partnership with CTIA”

The Parliament defies a politically biased Banking Union

Austerity lovers to put a break on Renzi’s growth vision for Europe? the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

Amsterdam is getting a 3D-printed bridge

Historic first, as Tolstoy’s War and Peace lands in Geneva, to mark international centenary

Cross-border cooperation: the EU Interreg programme celebrates 30 years of bringing citizens closer together

Renewable energy can get India’s returned rural migrants back to work

Amazon fires: Health Effects, Near and Far

Trump: Hostile to Europe, voids Tillerson’s “ironclad” ally pledge

EU supports recovery and resilience in Nigeria with additional €50 million

Why we need a Paris Agreement for nature

How Sierra Leone is using 3D printing to become a model state

2020 Blue Economy Report: Blue sectors contribute to the recovery and pave way for EU Green Deal

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

How young entrepreneurs should be supported: what assistance should governments provide?

Pandemic versus fear

Terrorist content online: companies to be given just one hour to remove it

Why the Greeks forgave Tsipras’ pirouettes around austerity and voted again for SYRIZA

MFF: Commission’s plan “impossible to implement” with Finnish proposal

FROM THE FIELD: Crisis in Kassala FROM THE FIELD: Crisis in Kassala

UN rights chief calls for release of hundreds abducted and abused in South Sudan

5 technologies that will forever change global trade

‘We will not give up on looking for peace for South Sudan’: UN deputy chief

Doctors vs. Industry 4.0: who will win?

Central Mali: Top UN genocide prevention official sounds alarm over recent ethnically-targeted killings

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s