Impact Study Status: Ongoing
Artificial intelligence has permeated various aspects of our lives, including the realm of government decision-making and public policy. While AI offers potential benefits in terms of efficiency and data-driven decision-making, it is essential to consider the potential risks and negative impacts on society. This Impact Study aims to explore these concerns and examine how to navigate them responsibly.
AI has the potential to streamline government services, improve the efficiency of public administration, and enhance policy analysis. For example, AI can aid in detecting and preventing fraud in social benefits programs (Desouza and Smith 2018). However, there are concerns that AI-driven decision-making may inadvertently perpetuate biases present in the data used to train the algorithms (Vinuesa et al. 2020).
One significant concern about AI in government is the potential erosion of transparency in decision-making processes. AI-driven decisions may be based on complex algorithms that are difficult for the public to understand, leading to a lack of transparency and accountability (Horowitz and Scharre 2018).
Another issue is the potential for AI to concentrate power in the hands of a few technology companies that control the algorithms and data used to make decisions. This could lead to a lack of competition and innovation, as well as a potential risk to democratic processes (Knight 2019).
In addition, the use of AI in government surveillance poses significant privacy concerns. The growing use of facial recognition technology and other AI-driven surveillance tools has raised concerns about potential abuses of power and infringement on individual rights (Harwell 2019).
Lastly, the potential for AI to be weaponized in the context of cyber warfare and autonomous weapons systems raises ethical and security concerns. The development of AI-driven military technologies may lead to an arms race and increase the risk of conflict (Allen and Chan 2017).
In conclusion, while AI offers the potential for significant benefits in government decision-making and public policy, it is vital to be aware of the potential risks and negative impacts on society. By fostering responsible AI development and deployment in government, we can harness the technology’s benefits while minimizing its adverse effects. To do so, policymakers must collaborate with experts, stakeholders, and the public to create ethical guidelines, standards, and policies that ensure transparency, accountability, and the protection of individual rights.
Allen, Gregory C., and Taniel Chan. “Artificial Intelligence and National Security.” Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, 2017.
Desouza, Kevin C., and Kendra L. Smith. “Artificial Intelligence for Citizen Services and Government.” Brookings Institution, 2018.
Harwell, Drew. “AI Surveillance Is Expanding Rapidly. Governments Need to Start Policing It.” The Washington Post, 22 Oct. 2019.
Horowitz, Michael C., and Paul Scharre. “The Promise and Peril of Military Applications of Artificial Intelligence.” Brookings Institution, 2018.
Knight, Will. “The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI.” The Guardian, 17 Mar. 2019.
Vinuesa, Ricardo, et al. “The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.” Nature Communications, vol. 11, no. 1, 2020, doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-14108-y.