pic from plugged.com
New tech may soon be able to predict future political problems and independently develop solutions before issues even arise. But what does that mean for democracy?
Tech companies are obsessed with predicting human behavior. Auto-correct knows what word we’re about to type and Amazon knows which book we’ll buy next. But for a while now, governments have also been using algorithms and predictive analytics to forecast their citizens’ behavior.
In many countries, the police already have so-called “predictive policing software,” which uses data to estimate the probability of crimes being committed in the future. In the U.S., the city of Chicago has developed an algorithm to predict food hygiene violations in restaurants. In the UK, authorities are using big data analysis to predict cases of child abuse. In Germany, the government plans to use an artificial intelligence system to predict “potential” crises before they arise.
A few months ago, the management consultancy firm Deloitte published a report describing various government trends, most striking of which is “anticipatory government”. “The latest developments in neuro-linguistic programming, machine learning and speech and image recognition have made it possible for governments to anticipate and predict problems instead of reacting to them,” says the report. They can avoid a whole range of problems, from crime to homelessness to accidents. As the use of this technology grows, governments will turn into a technocratic risk and process management system: input, output, done.
This new approach to politics will not only establish a new basis for exercising power (namely data) but will also lead to new rules being introduced. It won’t be decision-makers or politicians deciding what constitutes a crisis — it will be software developers. When a software developed by IBM – or SAP in the case of the German army – identifies any kind of crisis that politicians must react to, it constitutes a kind of lobbying, as developers gain influence over politics through a supposedly evidence-based system. This privatization and mechanization of politics is an extension of libertarian utopian states, a phenomenon that experts predicted decades ago where government structures are influenced by the market.(Adrain Lobe)
Posted by The non-Conformist