Will Robot Politicians Answer the Problem of Political Distrust?
Thu, 11 Jul 2019 || By Ariq Dmitri Andrei

The rapid advancement of AI technology is affecting various domains of life. The presence of AI has rendered numerous previously existing jobs to be obsolete, while also replacing them with new ones. AI is utilized in many sectors, such as autopilot in the aviation industry, risk management in the financial sector and even as a personal assistant in our daily lives, as can be seen in Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana. The realm of politics is not exempted from the influence of AI. A notable example regarding the role of AI in politics can be seen in the case of Yandex’s Alisa, which is available for Windows, iOS and Android users.

Alisa is a personal assistant developed by Yandex, a Russia-based technology company. Interestingly, Alisa nominated itself for the Russian Presidential Election, with the hashtag #Alisa2018 and even having an official website at www.alisa2018.ru[1].[ad1] [ar2]  Furthermore, in New Zealand, an AI named Sam functions as a politician. Sam possesses numerous advantages over its human counterparts, such as lack of emotional aspects that guarantees objectivity, unconstrained by time and space due to its chatbot feature, its relative accessibility to the public, and many other benefits that a human politician cannot possess.

AI-Made Policy in the Future

Hence, we have finally arrived to the main questions: how is the government sector under AI control? Is it better compared to the current human-dominated government sector? As can be seen in the examples of Alisa in Russia and Sam in New Zealand, AI will definitely influence the world of politics even more in the future. The role of AI in politics is a double-edged sword, providing both advantages and possible threats. On one hand, AI is free from emotional biases and is not influenced by any ideology, thus being far more rational compared to human policymakers and can lead to better policies enacted[2].

In addition, AI is virtually free from the physical constraints of humans, hence able to operate without necessary human time-offs such as sleep, sick leave or even vacation[3]. In addition, AI is expected to be “cleaner”, free from corruption, graft, nepotism or other humanly aspects of politics that can harm a government[4]. With such advantages, an AI-administered government indeed sounds promising. In the Netherlands, 43% of the public already prefer an AI-administered government over a human-administered one[5].

However, despite the advantages of an AI government over a human one, several possible threats also lurk. The largest threat is the automation of the previously existing jobs, hence will create a massive rate of unemployment. It is estimated that in a fully automated society, 60% of the public are unemployed, while the 40% work in jobs that cannot be automated at all[6].

Hence, this extremely high amount of unemployment will lead to negative socio-economic consequences, which is extremely unpopular and even unacceptable for the public. Hence, despite the ultimate rationality that AI possesses, AI still lacks the emotional aspects that human politicians possesses.[ad3] [ar4] [ar5] [ja6]  In addition, artificial intelligence is prone to be misused by its creators and can place the interests of its creators above public interests when governing[7].

The AI-Human Politician

In conclusion, an ideal condition is a collaboration between humans and AI in politics and government, as both possesses advantages that the other parties do not possess, while also compensating the weaknesses of each other. AI can ease the governing process for human politicians, such as by providing a comprehensive and processed analysis over a massive amount of data or bridging communications between the public and their politicians through chatbots. A good cooperation between humans and AI will greatly improve the realm of governance, as it combines the objectivity, rationality and tenacity of the AI, as well as the emotional intelligence that humans possess.

Read another article by Ariq Dmitri AndreiRachmadita K.

Editor: Janitra Haryanto & Anaq Duanaiko


[1] Pettit, H., (2017). Could Russia's president one day be a ROBOT? Alisa AI software that claims 'enemies of the people will be shot' wins the backing of 40,000 to stand against Vladimir Putin.  Daily Mail [Online]
Available at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5166847/Russian-AI-Alisa-wins-backing-40-000-election-run-up.html
 [Accessed on 9th July 2019].

[2] World Economic Forum, (2018). Could Robots do Better Than Our Current Leaders?. World Economic Forum [Online]

Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/10/could-robot-government-lead-better-current-politicians-ai/

[Accessed on 5th July 2019].

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] IE University, (2018). European Tech Insights. IE [Online]

Available at: https://www.ie.edu/cgc/research/tech-opinion-poll-2019/

[Accessed on 5 July 2019].

[6] Lanisha Butterfield, (2018). How AI is Shaping the Future of Politics. Oxford [Online]

Available at: https://www.research.ox.ac.uk/Article/2018-10-15-how-ai-is-shaping-the-future-of-politics

[Accessed on 5 July 2019].

[7] Marr, B., (2018). Is Artificial Intelligence Dangerous? 6 AI Risks Everyone Should Know About. Forbes [Online]

Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/11/19/is-artificial-intelligence-dangerous-6-ai-risks-everyone-should-know-about/3/#7b59863955b7

[Accessed on 5 July 2019].