Democratic AI: what to get into the minds of autocrats

ESome of us democracy researchers – everyone who lives in a democratic country at a time like this is a democracy researcher, whether they like it or not – will remember what the legendary Radio Yerevan said when asked if the difference between democracy and people’s democracy can also be explained in simple terms. Basically yes, was the answer, it’s like the difference between a jacket and a straitjacket. Flawless People’s Democrats keep these words in their hearts to this day. But what do these people have in mind? How is the specific dictator intelligence actually constituted?

One of the most important Western counterparts to the Armenian broadcaster Radio Yerevan, the journal group “Nature”, has just published a study according to which it has been possible to develop an AI that takes democratic virtues to heart and produces corresponding models of action. This “deep reinforcement learning agent”, as the technical term for such computer programs that work with methods of reinforcement learning, beat all human competitors out of the field in a test arrangement.

Questions of distributive justice, correctly answered

In an online game, participants with different levels of starting capital should each decide whether to keep their money for themselves or to share it with others for the benefit of the community. The community pot was then returned to the players according to various distribution logics. Artificial intelligence did best when it came to developing a distribution of risks and returns that was perceived by as many people as being as fair as possible. In a way, it found the most democratic ways to answer questions of distributive justice in a way that was accepted by a majority of this group.

If you want to put it in a completely unscientific but rather pathetic way: it has transformed the straitjacket of social inequality, which has been threatening to constrict western democracies ever more for years, into a comfortable jacket of justice that many would like to slip into.

At the end of their article, the scientists emphasize that while “democratic AI”, as they call their invention, can be a helpful tool in finding solutions to political problems, they would not recommend implementing it in society. Well, it doesn’t have to be society as a whole, but perhaps some dictators’ and autocrats’ skulls should be opened and a liter or two of this democratic AI trickled into them. Whatever the outcome, it would certainly be worth trying in the service of democracy research.

#Democratic #minds #autocrats

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