While stories of AI ruling over the world and keeping the peace have largely been reserved for the science fiction world until now, they still hold validity. Is it really possible for an algorithm to understand the needs of society and collaborate with existing systems to run society efficiently?
A preventive style of governance is not a new concept in terms of science fiction. However, is it possible for an AI to do so without taking away the human concept of free will?
Autocracy For AI
The most well-fleshed out realisation of the neo-autocratic dystopian vision is a Japanese animated series known as Psycho Pass. The series describes a world set in 2112, where society is run by a system known as the Sibyl System.
The Sibyl System can tap into any form of communication possible between the members of the society, and is present almost everywhere. It relies on members of the Public Safety Bureau’s Crime Investigation Division to carry out its wishes.
The Sibyl System is later revealed to be a system that can instantly calculate the propensity of a person to conduct a crime. This is what is mainly used to police society, as a person displaying a higher psycho pass is immediately apprehended upon the orders of the system.
Apart from this, Sibyl also decides which is the best job for each individual according to the scans, which are given the name ‘cymatic scan’. The existence of Sibyl has removed the need for democracy to exist, and has also made sure that it cannot exist, as the system picks the politicians.
In the show, it is said that this is the reason society is advancing so quickly, making the country it is in, Japan, a socio-economic masterpiece. The system hence takes away all semblance of free will in society, owing to its ability to directly detect the state of an individual’s mind. All decisions are made directly by the system, and the system alone.
The Fallout On Society
Even if humanity evolved enough to let our best algorithm take over our governments, there would still be a multitude of issues. Granted, the ethics of people being ruled over by robots also comes into the question. However, the strongest impact will come in a disruption of the ruler; a transition of man ruling over man to machines ruling over man.
While this will be vastly more efficient with regards to societal activities, it will also be highly disruptive. Markets such as international trade, shipping and many others will flow a lot easier due to AI controlling it, and many other disorganized parts of society will come together.
If most responsibility is given to the AI, it is also possible that the categorization of individuals into occupations can be done based on their innate talents. This is better in the larger scheme of things, as it ensures a more organized society. However, pitfalls exist.
The concept of free will comes under risk when algorithms take over. Even today, free will is being taken away from us by Google and Facebook, with decisions being made on what to show their customers and what not to.
Change On The Horizon
Just as described in the show, the countries that adopt such systems will see considerable economic and social progress. Owing to the large amount of consolidated power and insights, the operation of many societal institutions would become vastly more powerful.
While this will not replace many jobs in the private sector, the rise of an AI government will surely make politics redundant. There is a possibility that there will be political figureheads elected by the system in order to prevent anarchy. Indeed, prevention will be the order of the day, as it will become one of the main tenets of the new society.
The characteristic of AI to predict data will come in handy in predicting multiple facets of the world. Integrated sensors and consolidated databases will provide a comprehensive view of what an individual does within the purview of society. While this might seem Orwellian in nature, the concept of individual privacy will be nullified with the omniscience of the AI system.
The system does offer multiple benefits over existing governments, but the way it is perceived by the people is what will have to evolve the most. Today, people’s minds and their ‘souls’ are what set them apart from the rest. Due to the innate privacy of our inner selves, we only reveal it to those that are closest to us.
The system will lay bare everything humans see and feel in the name of fair governance. This will usher in a reconstruction of society, which might force a change in the way crime is perceived as a whole.