Democracy in a crisis: The birth of the Lev-AI-than in a new era of Cybernetics
By Julian Osborne
Democracy has seen a wave of crises: unequal globalisation gains, growing economic and social inequalities, left-right polarisation, political stalemates, and rising populism. Additionally, these trends are narrated in a media system flawed with politically motivated and technologically implemented fake news.AI-based tools can aid the dispersion of fake news.
An example is Trumps’ social media campaign during the last US elections. A more sophisticated case is the ongoing experiment to create a Chinese social trust system. It is not farfetched to think about the infamous piece of political literature by Thomas Hobbes describing the government as a “Leviathan” – an all-powerful mythical beast that coerces subjects into order in an otherwise chaotic state.
These Orwellian feeling developments, a constant conversation about job displacements, autonomous killer robots, as well as warnings by personalities like Stephen Hawking or Elon Musk have seen a demonisation of the technology for many people. However, the innovations offer far greater opportunities reflected in a growing chorus for an ethical discussion on AI applications and implications. In this context, AI should be openly addressed as the summary of a science, aiming at simulating intelligent behaviour in computers to the benefit of humanity.
Leaders need to seek conversations on systematic methodologies enabling computers to exhibit learning capabilities, decision-making and problem-solving. Importantly, these discussions must include the interaction between machines and humans. Cybernetics (from Greek κυβ&epsilon n;ρνητική: “governance”), an interdisciplinary science, offers a pre-existing framework that is extendable to incorporate these discussions.
Fittingly, the concept was treated in a book by Aristotle. In this context, the term was used to describe a skilful navigator, converting knowledge into a choice, while translating option into action. The current democratic crisis constitutes a crucial turning point, and AI could offer the birth of the Lev-AI-than using new technologies to benefit its citizens.
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