Original article was published by JM Piqué on Artificial Intelligence on Medium
And The Next President Will Be… An A.I.
As people don’t trust the politicians they have today, would it be an option to remove them and use technology to do their job?
I’m not exactly sure whether Hatsune Miku is scary, creepy, fun, awesome, or just irrelevant. But she’s the singer in more than 100,000 songs, and according to the company that created “her,” Crypton Future Media, she has a million followers on Facebook, 170,000 uploaded Youtube videos, and performed sold-out concerts worldwide, in Singapore, Hong Kong, or Los Angeles.
I don’t understand most of the things about Hatsune Miku, but it’s clear she’s a star. And her name is also a sign: The First Sound of The Future.
I know. I’m old enough to be aware that it is not anything else than a 21st Century version of our childhood TV shows. I wouldn’t say Hulk Hogan was more real, except for being in the flesh. Or we could even mention any of the prefab boy or girl bands of the 90s and 00s. Why are we surprised millions of people go to a concert performed by a hologram? When she breaks up with her latest partner, when she’s not happy about some of her songs or feels a bit anxious to meet her fans’ high expectations, at least no one is suffering. Well, not herself, though maybe someone on the team of her coders does.
Ok, that’s enough entertainment, let’s go to serious matters. The POTUS. Wait; what? Are you comparing a vocaloid, a teen pop star electronic program, with one of the world’s most important REAL persons?
Of course, I am.
What’s a president, or any politician at the highest level, but a character invented and developed to please the masses and get votes? The change in Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s voice is already quite famous and analyzed. Her “makers” trained her to lower her voice tone to sound less patronizing and stronger to an audience that wanted her to be someone much closer to that Iron Lady, advocate of a very conservative view of the world.
Her “friend” and ideologic companion, Ronald Reagan, was already acting even before being the president.
More in the 21st Century, those who think that the USA’s current president is not more than an overacted puppet with an ego on steroids would probably agree that he’s no different than when he was at The Apprentice TV show.
So, now we’ve agreed than pop stars and presidents are far from being real (ok, maybe we haven’t, but grant me this grace for the sake of the article), why don’t we make it really well and twist democracy into a system where all the population continuously vote for their preferred action?
Let’s explain how it could work. We would have teams of highly skilled professionals executing and deploying the citizenship will, expressed extensively through any of the hundred different electronic means we already have today. Those teams of experts would provide all the data, arguments, facts, and people to make an informed decision. And of course, the teams would be composed of experts, specialists in any specific field, but not politicians.
At least, not politicians as the ones we know today. As it happened in religion, authorities and institutions are far from representing the objectives, desires, and needs of the population. So why not get rid of the middle-man that is not adding value to our reality.
In most countries, we see people don’t feel represented by the politicians. They think politicians are greedy, only oriented to their own goals and not the people’s ones. As a World Bank’s document presents:
Elected representatives seem answerable only to the more powerful interests in society if at all. When politicians are unaccountable to poor people as citizens, the long route of accountability — connecting citizens with providers through politicians — breaks down, voice is weak, and providers can get away with delivering inadequate services to poor clients.
In general, politicians are not trusted and are considered to be inefficient and a burden. According to Harvard Business Review:
Research on the American political system shows that the Congress now is more divided than ever, pulled apart by two starkly different conceptions of government. Many in the media and in Congress complain that the nation’s politics have become too ideological. Congressman Jeb Hensarling, for instance, the co-chair of the supercommittee set up to trim the budget deficit, has declared that “the committee did not succeed because we could not bridge the gap between two dramatically competing visions of the role government should play in a free society.”
How about removing not such good politicians and replacing them with a system with tools to give power again to the people? At least, we’d be to blame for our own decisions. And accountability would be technologically easier than ever.
I know what the objections might be: people don’t know, and they’re not able to make their own decisions; hackers are going to take over and get control of our whole life; those with the resources to influence the crowd would impose their views; leadership and leaders are important for our society.
Is any of that not happening today with our imperfect democracy?
Technologies to do that are available. Well, developing, but getting closer and closer to become fully functional. The Council of Europe published a decade ago an E-voting handbook. Forbes was asking a few weeks ago whether E-Voting Is The Way Forward and if that would increase the population’s engagement with a process that is becoming a bit outdated. In 2016, fewer than 60% of U.S. citizens voted. President Trump won the election with 46.1% of the vote, but with less than a 60% turnout, this only equates to 27% of the total eligible voting population. Actually, people are already asking for that, as The Guardian reported: U.S. voters living outside the country filed a class-action lawsuit this week against election officials in seven states to force them to let voters return completed ballots electronically.
But the most important, are we ready for an A.I. president? It seems we are starting to be:
A recent survey reveals that one in four Europeans would be ready to put an artificial intelligence in power. There are significant variations between countries, because where the European average is around 30%, respondents in the Netherlands are much more open to having a government run by a supercomputer (+ 43%) than in France (+ 25%). “The idea of a pragmatic machine, impervious to fraud and corruption” is one of the reasons that seems most compelling to the interviewees.
Maybe it’s not for today, but it could easily be our best way forward. As a popular Wired article said three years ago: Is it possible that someday we will elect an A.I. president? Given some of the recent occupants of the White House, many might consider it an upgrade. After all, humans are prone to making decisions based on ego, anger, and the need for self-aggrandizement, not the common good. An artificially intelligent president could be trained to maximize happiness for the most people without infringing on civil liberties. It might even learn that it’s a good idea to tweet less — or not at all.
By 2020, the next president will still be human. Holograms like Hatsune Miku are still just for fun.