Algorithmic augmentation of democracy: considering whether technology can enhance the concepts of democracy and the rule of law through four hypotheticals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The potential use, relevance, and application of AI and other technologies in the democratic process may be obvious to some. However, technological innovation and, even, its consideration may face an intuitive push-back in the form of algorithm aversion (Dietvorst et al., 2015). In this paper, I confront this intuition and suggest that a more ‘extreme’ form of technological change in the democratic process does not necessarily result in a worse outcome in terms of the fundamental concepts of democracy and the Rule of Law. To provoke further consideration and illustrate that initial intuitions regarding democratic innovation may not always be accurate, I pose and explore four ways that AI and other forms of technology could be used to augment the representative democratic process. The augmentations range from voting online to the wholesale replacement of the legislature’s human representatives with algorithms. After first noting the intuition that less invasive forms of augmented democracy may be less objectionable than more extreme forms, I go on to critically assess whether the augmentation of existing systems satisfies or enhances ideas associated with democracy and the Rule of Law (provided by Dahl and Fuller). By imagining a (not too far-fetched) future in a (not too far-removed) democratic society, my conclusion is that, when it comes to democracy and the Rule of Law, intuitions regarding technology may lead us astray.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalAI and Society
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Feb 2021

Keywords

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Democracy
  • Rule of Law
  • Algorithm

Cite this