Technology has beneficial applications in many areas of government. This is especially the case with artificial intelligence (AI), which could easily become a key tool for today’s governments by allowing them to gather data in real time, make accurate predictions, and provide their citizens with better services. As for citizens’ opinions regarding the use of AI, they’re mostly supportive of it. For instance, according to a survey conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), citizens are supportive of using AI tech for customer service, traffic optimisation, and predictive maintenance of public infrastructure. However, the majority of respondents don’t support implementing AI in the justice system and other areas responsible for making sensitive decisions, such as sentencing recommendations.
Estonia’s AI-powered robot judge will clear its court cases backlog
However, the Estonian Ministry of Justice thinks differently. To achieve greater productivity, Estonia’s government plans to create an AI-powered robot judge. Since the solution will be designed to take care of small disputes, it will be able to “clear a backlog of cases” and allow human judges and court clerks to focus their time on bigger cases. The concept behind the tech is quite simple. The two parties in a dispute will be required to upload the necessary documents, and based on the provided information, the AI system will issue a decision. But to make sure that the AI won’t have too much decision-making power, the parties to a dispute will be able to appeal the AI’s decision to a human judge. Though the development of the tech is still in the early stage, WIRED reports the pilot is expected to start in late 2019.
To be truly efficient, the Estonian robot judge needs to be unbiased. David Engstrom, an expert in digital governance from Stanford University, explains that “That’s one of these creeping things that privacy advocates and good government advocates worry about when the government digitizes in this way.”
How does India’s government plan to leverage AI?
Another proponent of AI automation in the government sector is India, and there are several areas where India’s government plans to use AI. For example, India has already begun applying AI in areas such as cybersecurity, defence, and agriculture. Now, the country wants to leverage this technology to automate documentation processes, such as land records and court orders. Similar to Estonia, India could also deploy AI in its judiciary system, allowing users to upload a copy of a contract or agreement, after which the system would summarise and analyse the document. What’s more, the government could utilise AI to improve law enforcement operations. Such tech would allow the government to monitor people’s movement and detect potential crime incidents.
China’s use of an AI surveillance system gained criticism
Just like every other technology, AI could easily be misused, and governments could take advantage of the tech to gain more control over their citizens. China is reportedly already doing this. The Chinese government is intentionally using AI-powered facial recognition tech to track a Muslim minority group living in the Xinjiang region. Such use of AI has created concerns and increased criticism from human rights groups, who believe that China’s racial profiling tech could encourage other governments around the world to use AI for nefarious purposes, which could make the world become more chaotic than it already is.
Government interest in AI is growing, and as the tech becomes more sophisticated, more governments will feel the need to invest in this technology. Though AI is beneficial in so many ways, when it comes to adopting it, governments should be cautious and make sure they’re using it in a proper way, without doing any harm to their citizens.