Artificial intelligence and democracy: the need for control and precautions

By | May 7, 2023

The country is advancing at a pre-electoral pace ahead of the May 21 elections, with parties and political leaders raising the tone of the confrontation every day. A confrontation, which unfortunately for the moment is spent on personal attacks and slander rather than on the presentation of the programmatic positions of the parties.

And while, at least in theory, all political parties fight for the vote of young people and especially Generation Z (17-25 years old), which they even try to reach through Instagram, TiTok and Spotify, the discussion even there it seems to limit itself to facts and symbols of the past, rather than the critical challenges of the future. One of these challenges is undoubtedly Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the tectonic changes that it is expected to bring, with relative certainty, to our daily lives, to education, to the labor market and even to the exercise of power.

Lately, the conversation around the use of AI has started and is becoming much more mainstream as “I have the answers to all questions” apps like ChatGPT have definitely entered our daily conversation. So how are these new types of technology platforms that collect, process and present data, interacting in a human way, expected to affect society? And if the foundation of democracy is speech, how will its quality be affected once natural language expression ceases to be a uniquely human privilege?

Good Affairs undertook to detect the moods and initial assessments of public opinion on the term “Artificial Intelligence” and its relationship with democracy in the context of a broader study by the business consultancy FMC AE -the axis of the Tesseract strategy. – on the subject, with the STEP to present only the interesting findings.

“Having completed 25 years in the field of business consulting and following the flow of information from the birth of accounting events to business analysis and strategy formation, we find that the ability to manage information is critical to progress. of the organizations. IT comes to disrupt the way in which information is received, metabolized and used, creating the need to detect new balances in the social and, consequently, business ecosystem. For this reason, we prefer the global investigation of the potential effects of IT and following the PESTLE model, we start from the Political environment”says or Socrates SarafidisChairman of the board of directors of FMC SA

Knowledge about Artificial Intelligence is superficial

Research shows a general familiarity with the term Artificial Intelligence. Curiously, 40% of those surveyed (mostly in productive ages) state that they have used a computer application. This demonstrates the interest of young people and productive ages to test, experiment and use the results of these new tools. Most of the sample has yet to use a TN application, possibly showing us that general familiarity with the term may be more superficial today.

There is a large percentage of people (72%, chart 3) who understand that AI as a human technological achievement that can fundamentally change the way we live, work and decide is an issue that requires regulation/control. The demand from political parties to develop proposals and adopt the IT issue in their agenda is strong.

Confidence vote in universities

However, the institutions most trusted by citizens for the regulation/control initiative are currently outside the narrow political-partisan system, with the academic community, independent authorities and international organizations at the forefront. It is noted that it is said that 1/5 of the Greek society fears this question and answers that they cannot trust anyone. The very low trust in the political system possibly indicates that the issue of IT should be the subject of international cooperation and a multi-party approach (figure 7).

The positive attitude of the majority of citizens in relation to NT with work (49% positive opinions with 25% negative – graph 4) and daily life (54% positive / 24% negative – graph 5) is a very interesting. It shows a progressive approach to the potential of technological innovations to improve the way we live and work, or failing that, the positive impact that AI can have on quality of life (including more time, fewer errors and costs, better decisions , prevention and better health, access to better services).

Reserves for IT participation in the Republic

Even more interesting is the contrast with the attitude towards the relationship between IT and democracy (28% positive – 41% negative – graph 6), where the opinion of public opinion becomes more defensive and cautious. “Citizens probably understand that AI can create further power asymmetries between democratic institutions and organizations that develop and manage AI technologies. It probably reinforces the view that decisions will increasingly be made by “others”. This certainly highlights the responsibility of the parties, universities, media, etc. to highlight the issue in public debate. Furthermore, this finding shows us the importance of continuing political research on IT by further deepening the understanding of citizen perceptions.” the data analyst and head of Good Affairs points out to BIMA, Jorge Trapalis.

According to him, the relationship between TN and Democracy can be established as mutually exclusive or complementary, depending on our future perspective.

“On the one hand, ‘TN or Democracy’ expresses a defensive dilemma about the replacement of democratic institutions and decision-making by software and computer systems. We no longer need to clash between competing plans because we can have the answers ready for every question. The disintegration of democracy in the face of IT dynamics is a visible possibility and for this reason a part of the relevant discussion in the future will be control and transparency in the operation of IT systems. We don’t want TN to become the “philosopher king”.

“On the other hand, if the focus becomes ‘INT and democracy’, it expresses a progressive complementary request for how we can improve the quality of democracy, how we can support social and collective intelligence to make the best decisions. The quality of democracy is directly proportional to the citizen’s relationship with it, that is, greater participation and democratic awareness means better democracy. The Internet revolution broke down class barriers to knowledge and made information a public good. The next step with AI is how we can organize the information to define the right questions every time and prioritize alternative answers. The citizen and the knowledge of the new era are called to be trained to ask the right questions and choose the right answers. The speed and effectiveness of problem-solving decisions will increase dramatically. However, what we choose and why will continue to be based on our ideological and moral judgments about what is good and fair, for whom, and why. IT is a tool and not an institution,” she points out.

It should be noted that the research was conducted between April 14 and 20, 2023 through online questionnaires from an online panel designed on a sample of 1132 participants.

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