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Hear Me Out: Let’s Elect an AI as President

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Is it possible that someday we will elect an AI president?

Given some of the recent occupants of the White House, many might consider it an upgrade. After all, 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. More than 30,000 people die in traffic accidents every year in the US alone, and almost all of those deaths are attributable to human error. Self-driving cars are poised to reduce that number significantly.

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.

Certainly, even given a clear governing platform, the answers to big questions are fraught with complexities: Should the Constitution be interpreted literally or adapted to modern times? And how do we tackle poverty, inequality, and entitlements? Any action on these issues is likely to result in unintended consequences. Presidents need to react to novel situations and think many steps ahead, and they need to make difficult choices. “By the time something reaches my desk, that means it’s really hard,” President Obama memorably said in 2009. It might seem unrealistic to think that an algorithm could wade into uncharted territory and do better than a human.

But recent events undercut

Read More At:  https://www.wired.com/2017/05/hear-lets-elect-ai-president/


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