Artificial Intelligence: Future Politicians

Joseph Mallord William Turner - Bellinzona from the Road to Locarno: Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway // Public domain

In the realm of modern technology, the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI) is becoming increasingly pervasive, reshaping industries and societies alike. AI, in its simplest form, refers to the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that would typically require human intelligence. It enables machines with the ability to learn from experience, adapt to new data, and make decisions with minimal human intervention.

AI applications span a wide spectrum of domains, from natural language processing (NLP) and computer vision to autonomous vehicles and virtual assistants. In healthcare, AI aids in disease diagnosis and treatment recommendations, enhancing patient outcomes. In finance, AI-driven algorithms analyze market trends and optimize investment strategies. AI-driven automation can even streamline manufacturing and logistics processes, boosting efficiency and productivity.

Increasingly so, AI has been prevalent in the political field. Legislative procedures, elections, citizenship, and decision-making processes are progressively guided by elements or aspects of algorithmic systems and automation. The use of AI may range from facial recognition, targeted political advertisements, automated interactions that exacerbate polarization, or even online-based opinion polls that can be exaggerated by components of automation.

As such, AI’s rapid advancement raises ethical concerns and calls for responsible deployment. Issues like data privacy, programming bias, and potential job displacement demand thoughtful consideration. More so today than ever before, people are worried about what the future holds in terms of their career.

Will people learn to work responsibly with the new technology, which is merely a tool to aid human productivity?

Or, will AI prove to be significantly more efficient, precise, and powerful than mankind, upsetting the societal structure of our workforce as we know it and impede on our democratic systems?

Will AI Replace All Our Jobs?

AI’s integration into various industries has already led to the displacement of certain jobs. Routine, repetitive tasks that rely on predefined patterns are at the highest risk. Jobs like data entry, manual data analysis, and simple customer service roles are increasingly being automated by AI-powered systems. This has resulted in some human workers facing unemployment or being required to reskill for more complex roles that complement AI technologies.

While job displacement has started, the scope for AI to affect careers in the future is vast. AI’s capabilities are expected to evolve, enabling it to outperform humans in certain domains:

  1. Transportation: Autonomous vehicles are poised to revolutionize the transportation industry. Long-haul truck driving and taxi services might gradually become automated, impacting millions of drivers worldwide.
    In 2020, 10.8 million individuals over the age of 15 were employed in the transportation sector across the EU.
  2. Manufacturing and Warehousing: AI-driven robots are increasingly being employed in manufacturing and warehousing processes, leading to reduced reliance on human labor for repetitive tasks.
    As of 2022, over 32.2 million people were employed in the manufacturing sector within the European Union, the most of any sector.
  3. Healthcare Diagnostics: AI’s potential to analyze vast medical datasets and assist in disease diagnosis could reshape the roles of radiologists and pathologists.
    In 2022, 22.5 million people were working in healthcare and social work related jobs, in the EU.
  4. Customer Support: AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants might further reduce the need for human customer support agents, especially for routine inquiries.
    In 2022 within the EU, 8.2 million people were employed in administrative and support service activities, including customer support.
  5. Financial Services: AI algorithms are already playing a significant role in financial markets, potentially affecting jobs in financial analysis and investment management.
    Between the ages of 15-64, approximately 5.5 million people worked in the financial and insurance sector, in the European Union; of that, around 2.15 million people were employed in banks.

However, AI is undoubtedly here to stay and instead of fearing such change, the world may have no other choice than to coexist with artificial intelligence. The job market is continuously evolving, ushering in a new era of innovation and collaboration.

Instead of fearing the unknown, humanity can harness the potential of artificial intelligence to unlock new opportunities, empower human potential and shape a future where technology and humanity work together for the good of all. By cultivating a skilled workforce equipped to adapt to AI advancements, society can embark into the unknown, on a journey where AI acts as a powerful ally in transforming our way of living.

The Good and the Ugly of AI

As the integration of AI into everyday life walks on uncharted territory, it is easy to go back and forth between the potential merits of artificial intelligence, and the dark underbelly that raises pressing concerns about the misuse of technology, if not guided properly.

Beyond the realm of having to restructure careers, lies several troublesome predicaments in which AI could lead to the downfall of a democratic humanity.

AI’s potential for cyber warfare and hacking is a double-edged sword. On one hand, AI-driven cybersecurity systems can bolster defenses, detect and respond to threats in real-time. On the other hand, malicious actors could weaponize AI to craft more sophisticated and targeted cyberattacks. Automated hacking tools could exploit vulnerabilities faster than human defenders can respond, leading to widespread data breaches, financial disruptions, and even compromising critical infrastructure.

Moreover, the development of AI-powered weapon systems raises ethical concerns about autonomous killing machines. These AI-driven weapons, devoid of human decision-making in the heat of combat, could lead to unintended civilian casualties and escalate conflicts. The lack of human accountability in these scenarios blurs the lines of responsibility, morality, and opens the door to unpredictable and dangerous outcomes.

AI’s ability to analyze vast datasets comes with the risk of information leaks and privacy breaches. On a macro scale, confidential data leaks could lead to the outbreak of war and violence. On a more intimate level, advanced algorithms could deduce sensitive personal details, potentially leading to the exposure of individuals’ private lives, opinions, and even medical records. This could not only erode personal privacy but also provide vengeful people with potent tools for blackmail and manipulation.

Positive Spin?

Though AI’s potential for malicious use is immeasurable, artificial Intelligence has the capacity to bring about a profound transformation in the lives of humans, not only enhancing various aspects of daily existence but also challenging traditional societal structures, such as capitalism, and paving the way for a new paradigm of coexistence.

The integration of AI into various sectors may challenge existing societal structures, including capitalism. As AI potentially replaces certain jobs, it may prompt us to reconsider the value and purpose of work in society. Concepts like Universal Basic Income (UBI) could gain traction, ensuring everyone’s basic needs are met, irrespective of traditional employment. People could focus on other aspects of self-actualization rather than working to live, under today’s capitalistic system.

AI-driven automation may encourage a paradigm shift in how humans collaborate. Rather than being driven solely by competition, societies could emphasize collaboration, innovation, and creativity. AI could facilitate collective problem-solving and cooperation, encouraging cross-disciplinary approaches to tackle complex challenges.

As AI shapes economies and job markets, societies may redefine notions of wealth and well-being. Rather than measuring success solely by monetary wealth, emphasis may shift to overall well-being, happiness, and access to resources that enhance quality of life.

This could lead to a more equitable distribution of resources and opportunities, all because humans have learned to co-exist with technology, sustainably and successfully.

When AI Goes Awry: Real-World Catastrophes and Errors Unveiled

Unfortunately, however, AI has already proven to make irreversible and disastrous mistakes, in real-time. We no longer have to pose hypotheticals of potential disasters, as many AI-driven catastrophes have demonstrated the downfalls of technology, when integrated into our lives too quickly, before we fully understood its capabilities.

Not only do people fear that artificial intelligence will quickly become more advanced than humans, but in its current form and application, the public panics at the thought of an AI-related flaw that could cost them their lives:

  1.  The Hawaii False Missile Alarm: A Terrifying Wake-Up Call
    On January 13, 2018, the residents of Hawaii were gripped by panic when they received an emergency alert on their phones: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” The message, caused by human error while conducting a test, took 38 minutes to correct. This incident exposed the risks of automated alert systems and highlighted the potential for AI-related miscommunications, potentially leading to disastrous consequences.
  2. Autonomous Vehicles’ Lethal Encounters
    In the realm of self-driving cars, AI malfunctions have had fatal consequences. In 2018, an Uber self-driving car struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. The incident brought attention to the complexities of AI decision-making in dynamic environments and raised questions about the readiness of autonomous vehicles for real-world scenarios.
  3. AI-powered Financial Market Chaos
    In the world of high-frequency trading, AI algorithms have led to market meltdowns. In 2010, the “Flash Crash” caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to plummet nearly 1,000 points in minutes, only to recover just as quickly. The incident was triggered by AI-driven algorithms reacting to a single large trade, underscoring the need for robust safeguards against AI-induced financial instability.
  4.  AI in Politics: Biased Decision-Making
    AI algorithms used in political systems are not immune to bias. In 2020, Twitter faced criticism when its AI algorithm displayed racial and gender biases in its image-cropping feature. The algorithm tended to prioritize white faces over others, revealing the inherent biases present in AI models, which can have significant ramifications in political contexts, perpetuating inequality and discrimination.

Due to the world we live in, artificial intelligence programs that learn from user behavior often cause unintended biases, often at the expense of marginalized groups. The incident of embarrassing photo-cropping on Twitter shed light on a widespread issue in the tech industry: the inadvertent integration of biases into AI systems. These biases arise as companies train AI using user behavior data, potentially causing AI systems to internalize prejudices unintentionally.

This problem is known as machine learning bias, wherein algorithms yield systematically prejudiced outcomes due to flawed assumptions in the machine learning process based on real-life data it is given, which is often one-sided and in-favor of typically ‘dominant’ Western groups. The saying “garbage in, garbage out” aptly illustrates that poor or incomplete data leads to inaccurate predictions.

The root of machine learning bias often lies in the creators and trainers of the systems- who repeatedly represent one thin layer of the world’s population- who  inadvertently introduce cognitive biases or real-world prejudices into algorithms, fueled by inadequate or biased training data.

The Future of Politics at AI’s Crosshairs?

In the realm of politics, many fear the power that AI holds, and the way it can be manipulated, if in the wrong hands. As the world hurdles down the path of rapid artificial intelligence advancement, the very fabric of politics and the politicians who govern us stand at the edge of an abyss.

Brace yourself for a future where AI-driven technologies, like the ominous deep fakes, wield the power to disrupt and demolish the very essence of our democratic processes.

What might a society look like, where AI is used for evil, rather than for the greater good of people?

  1. The Age of Deepfakes: A Politician’s Nightmare
    In this era of advanced AI, the emergence of deep fakes has cast an ominous shadow over politics. These insidious tools enable malevolent actors to fabricate convincing audio and video content, deceiving the public and destabilizing trust in political institutions. Deepfake technology gives rise to unscrupulous actors to fabricate speeches, interviews, or statements from public figures. This could sow discord, spread false narratives, and erode trust in information sources. Additionally, AI algorithms can be used to generate fake news articles, amplifying misinformation campaigns and stoking polarization.
    Imagine a world where voters are unable to distinguish fact from fiction, where politicians’ faces and voices are manipulated, and truth becomes a mere illusion.
  2. Trust Erosion and Political Manipulation
    With the advent of AI, political discourse is becoming a breeding ground for misinformation and manipulation. Social media platforms are rife with AI-driven algorithms that tailor content to reinforce individuals’ pre-existing beliefs, creating echo chambers and polarizing societies. Politicians are not immune to these tactics, as AI-powered campaigns exploit psychological vulnerabilities, amplifying divisiveness and undermining the very foundation of a united and functional democracy.
  3.  The Politician’s Soul Auctioned to AI Masters
    As AI’s capabilities burgeon, politicians may be tempted to sacrifice their authenticity and principles at the altar of AI-driven public appeal. Sophisticated AI algorithms analyze masses of data to shape politicians’ messaging and policies, reducing them to mere puppets manipulated by unseen AI puppeteers. A future of AI-crafted speeches and AI-calibrated personas awaits us, where the essence of genuine leadership evaporates into thin air.
  4.  The Imminent Job Crisis: Politicians Need Not Apply
    Prepare for the day when AI encroaches on the sacred ground of political decision-making. With AI’s potential to process vast data sets and optimize policy outcomes, the very role of politicians may become expendable. Why rely on fallible humans when AI can seemingly make more informed and rational decisions? The political landscape may be engulfed by soulless AI advisors, rendering our elected representatives obsolete.
  5.  The Frightening Reign of AI-Backed Autocrats
    Beware the rise of autocratic regimes that embrace AI as the ultimate tool for control and repression. AI surveillance systems relentlessly monitor citizens, quashing dissent and silencing voices of opposition. The chilling prospect of AI-generated propaganda and AI-powered censorship heralds a dystopian era where citizens are stripped of their autonomy and individuality.

Glimmer of Hope for Future Politicians?

While the shadows of rapid artificial intelligence advancement may cast doubt on the future of politics, we must also acknowledge the glimmers of hope it brings to the political landscape.

Beneath the grim façade lies a world of potential opportunities where AI can empower politicians and reshape democratic processes for the better.

AI has the power to revolutionize the way politicians govern by offering data-driven insights and evidence-based decision-making tools. With AI’s ability to process vast amounts of information in real-time, policymakers can access nuanced data to design effective and responsive policies. Informed governance backed by AI-driven analytics can lead to more efficient resource allocation, better-targeted programs, and evidence-backed legislative choices.

Furthermore, AI can become a bridge between politicians and their constituents, fostering a more engaged and participatory democracy. AI-driven platforms can facilitate inclusive and transparent communication channels, enabling citizens to voice their concerns and ideas directly to policymakers. This opens up opportunities for politicians to have a deeper understanding of public sentiment and preferences, leading to more responsive governance.

Moreover, the political campaign landscape can benefit greatly from AI’s capabilities. AI-driven data analysis and voter segmentation can help politicians target specific demographics effectively, allowing for more personalized and engaging campaign messages. This level of micro-targeting can help bridge the gap between politicians and the electorate, leading to increased voter turnout and a more vibrant democratic process.

Aiding to creating a more sustainable and democratic society, AI-powered policy simulations can play a crucial role in testing potential policies before their implementation. By inputting various parameters, AI can model and predict the outcomes of proposed policies, helping politicians understand the potential impact on society and the economy. This approach can minimize the risk of unintended consequences and lead to more effective, well-informed policies.

AI technologies can facilitate cross-party collaboration and consensus-building. By analyzing vast amounts of legislative data, AI can identify areas of common interest and help politicians find common ground on important issues. This collaborative approach can lead to more effective governance and mitigate the divisiveness that often plagues modern politics.

While deep fakes pose a risk, AI can also be harnessed to detect and combat misinformation and false content. Ethical AI frameworks can be developed to ensure the veracity and authenticity of political communication, safeguarding the democratic process from manipulation and deception.

What Lies Ahead…

The integration of artificial intelligence holds immense promise for humanity, transcending the boundaries of mere technological advancement. It has the potential to better human lives, foster creativity and innovation, and reshape societal structures like capitalism. By leveraging AI to address critical challenges and promoting collaboration and collective well-being, we can forge a new future, one where humanity thrives, and technology becomes a force for positive change in our global community. However, humankind has a responsibility to strike a delicate balance, leveraging AI’s strengths while mitigating its risks, fostering an accountable and appropriate dissemination of AI.

Only time will tell whether the prospect of an interlinked human-AI society will be a sustainable and promising society for all…

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Lili Magyar
Republikon Institute