Thursday, May 18, 2017

Is It Possible That Someday We Will Elect an AI President


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.

Sure, on first glance the idea is far-fetched and a little bit ridiculous. It’s not clear, for example, how an algorithm, no matter how lucid, could host a state dinner. Still, AI politicians are the likely culmination of trends already underway. Think about cars. Tesla owners are thrilled to let their Model S’s drive themselves, and auto manufacturers are rushing to produce vehicles that won’t even have steering wheels. Within a decade, tens of thousands of people will entrust their daily commute—and their safety—to an algorithm, and they’ll do it happily.

Why? Because it will make their lives better. Instead of sitting in traffic, drivers—now passengers—can watch a movie or get some work done. The increase in human productivity and happiness will be enormous. At the same time, it’ll make us safer.

Similarly, we’re not very good at governing ourselves. The US government is mired in gridlock, name-calling, and partisan entrenchment. We vote for people because we like the way they look or talk, not because of policy positions. We elect politicians who we hope will embody our ideals and values, only to be sorely disappointed when they seduce the interns and demand briefcases of unmarked bills. We want our politicians to embody our highest ideals. They usually don’t.

An AI president offers the possibility of delivering a purer form of government, one focused on the ideals we elect our presidents to represent. Voters could choose between a Democrat or a Republican AI, one that promised to enact the party’s platform. Or, voters could simply vote on a laundry list of issues, and an AI that reflected the popular will on each point would be built.

Human presidents in the modern era are already overwhelmed by a rising flow of information. We just weren’t designed for the digital era. Most of us can’t handle our email inboxes, let alone the data streaming in from government agencies, the economy, and the military. An AI driver can take in 360 degrees of information simultaneously, see farther down the road, and react faster than any human. Could an AI President do the same? Continue reading at Wired

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