Editorial

Former US Presidential candidate: we need to protect politics from rogue AI

1988 Democratic pick Micheal Dukakis: ‘You can make it more efficient, you can do some things with technology that maybe you couldn’t do without it in the best sense, but you’re not going to have machines running the government’

Posted 13 August 2018 by

Former Massachusetts governor and unsuccessful 1988 US Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis says work needs to be done to ensure Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used responsibly by governments around the world.

The now 84-year old political veteran and former University lecturer told Associated Press last week that the United Nations should establish a body like the International Atomic Energy Agency to hack out enough global agreements to ensure AI “be used for constructive purposes only”, citing hacking of elections as one key area to look into immediately.

He has also co-founded a special pressure group to do so, the Artificial Intelligence World Society, which he set up last November to bring scientists, academics, government officials and industry leaders together to ensure AI is used to serve humanity’s best interests.

“My concern is what happens to these technologies and whether or not we use them for good reasons, and make sure they are internationally controlled,” he fears.

Dukakis is also working with Vietnamese mathematician and tech pioneer Nguyen Anh Tuan, with the two expressing hope that an “ethical framework” for developing the technology could result from the Society’s efforts.

Dukakis’s intervention comes in a US context where interest in the potential of AI is definitely on the rise, with many observers impressed by Deloitte’s Center for Government Insights‘s projection last year said a significant investment in AI could free up 1.2 billion hours of time spent by federal workers and saving more than $41 billion annually, and benefits to service users like helping applicants better deal with complex forms and patent applications, among other use cases.

Dukakis told AP he is also intrigued by AI’s potential to help with government decision-making, but doesn’t believe it will ever supplant human governance or take away the jobs of civil servants:

“You can make it more efficient, you can do some things with technology that maybe you couldn’t do without it in the best sense, but you’re not going to have machines running the government [as] there are too many judgments you have to make in this world that involve values, ethics and morality.”