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AI and Democracy: an Experiment

English title AI and Democracy: an Experiment
Applicant Duberry Jérôme
Number 190509
Funding scheme Spark
Research institution Global Studies Institute Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.02.2020 - 31.08.2021
Approved amount 113'574.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Political science
Information Technology

Keywords (15)

Democracy; Information and communication technologies; Artificial intelligence; Digital technologies; Online platforms ; Political participaton; Citizen participation; AI; Political participation; Civic tech; Algorithm; Machine learning; Natural Language Processing ; e-government; Policy making

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
L'intelligence artificielle (IA) est aujourd'hui de plus en plus utilisée dans la relation citoyen-gouvernement. Les gouvernements ont progressivement adopté cette technologie pour répondre à une demande croissante de (i) numériser l'action publique, (ii) optimiser ses opérations et services, et (iii) accroître l'engagement des citoyens dans le développement, la mise en œuvre et l'évaluation des politiques publiques. Dans ce contexte, l'IA offre un avantage concurrentiel à celles et ceux qui ont les moyens financiers et/ou la capacité technologique d'exploiter sa puissance.
Lay summary
En introduisant (ou en autorisant l'utilisation) de cette technologie dans les processus démocratiques, les gouvernements introduisent également un certain degré d'incertitude et de vulnérabilité. La société civile, et en particulier les citoyens, prennent un risque lorsque leur interaction avec le gouvernement ou leur participation à l'élaboration des politiques a pour intermédiaire une forme d'IA. Compte tenu de la sensibilisation et des connaissances limitées des citoyens et des décideurs en matière d'IA, nous pouvons questionner la réflexivité de ces décisions de prise de risque. Le déploiement de l'IA dans les processus démocratiques n'est pas neutre et peut affecter à long terme  la confiance que les citoyens accordent à leurs gouvernements, et aux processus d'élaboration des politiques publiques. Des recherches supplémentaires doivent être menées pour évaluer la perception de l'IA par les citoyens dans ce contexte et son impact sur la confiance. En outre, il est impératif de sensibiliser et d'éduquer les citoyens à l'IA afin qu'ils puissent s'adapter et tirer profit de cette nouvelle relation médiatisée par l'IA.

Cette étude confirme des recherches antérieures, notamment celles de Mayer-Schonberger et Ramge (2018), qui affirment que le pouvoir sera de plus en plus concentré entre les mains de ceux qui ont développé la capacité de collecter et de contrôler des données volumineuses. Wu (2010) et Harari (2018) prédisent la croissance des cartels et des monopoles. La présente étude rejoint ces études en affirmant que dans un contexte où la relation entre gouvernement et citoyen est facilitée par une forme d'IA, le pouvoir appartient à ceux qui détiennent la capacité d'IA et de big data. Dans ce contexte, nous devons adopter une approche de l'IA centrée sur l'humain, qui respecte les droits de l'homme et contribue à la résilience de la démocratie libérale. Cette étude propose d'aller au-delà des lignes directrices et des recommandations actuelles, pour (i) mettre en œuvre un moratoire sur l'utilisation de l'IA développée et gérée par des acteurs privés, (ii) développer des campagnes d'alphabétisation sur l'IA, et (iii) construire des projets pilotes pour évaluer l'impact de la médiation de l'IA sur la participation des citoyens et la confiance dans la démocratie libérale.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 08.11.2021

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly used in the citizen-government relation today. Governments have progressively adopted this technology to respond to a growing demand to (i) digitalize public action, (ii) optimize its operations and services, and (iii) increase citizen engagement in the development, implementation, and evaluation of public policies. In this context, AI offers a competitive advantage to those who have the financial means and /or the technological capacity to harness its power.
Lay summary

When introducing (or allowing the use of) this technology in democratic processes, governments also introduce a degree of uncertainty and vulnerability. Civil society, and particularly individual citizens, take a risk when their interaction with government or their participation in policymaking is mediated by AI. Considering the limited AI awareness and literacy of citizens and policymakers, we question the reflexivity (or consciousness that one is taking a risk) of such risk-taking and risk-making decisions. Deploying AI in democratic processes is not neutral and may have long-lasting negative effects on the trust that citizens place in their governments, the transparency and accountability of policymaking, as well as in their capacity to have a meaningful influence in this process. Additional research must be conducted to assess the citizen perception of AI in this context and its impact on trust. In addition, it is imperative to raise awareness and literacy about AI so that citizens can adapt and take advantage of this new AI-mediated relation.

The limited transparency and accountability of these actors, and the tools they sell to some political actors, increase the asymmetry of power in the policymaking process, as well as raises question about the legitimacy of the process itself. This study confirms previous research including from Mayer-Schonberger and Ramge (2018), who contend that power will increasingly be concentrated in the hands of those who have developed the capacity to collect and control valuable data. Wu (2010) and Harari (2018) predict the growth of cartels and monopolies. Without control over data accumulation, users are deprived of some of their agency over personal information, which can then become an open door to unfair data management practices, such as discrimination (Cinnamon, 2017). 

This study concurs with these studies by arguing that in an AI-mediated citizen-government context, power lies with those who hold the AI and big data capacity. In this context, we need to adopt a human-centered approach to AI that respect human rights and contributes to the resilience of liberal democracy. We argue that we need to go beyond current guidelines and recommendations to (i) implement a moratorium on the use of AI developed and managed by private actors, (ii) develop AI literacy campaigns, and (iii) build pilot projects to assess how AI- mediation impacts citizen participation and trust in liberal democracy.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 08.11.2021

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Contrasted media frames of AI during the COVID-19 pandemic: a content analysis of US and European newspapers
Duberry Jerome, Hamidi Sabrya (2021), Contrasted media frames of AI during the COVID-19 pandemic: a content analysis of US and European newspapers, in Online Information Review, 45(4), 758-776.

Datasets

Expert contributions

Author Duberry, Jerome
Publication date 28.10.2021
Persistent Identifier (PID) 10.26037/yareta:o44zxnzljzhrfeder27qzyncym
Repository UNIGE YARETA
Abstract
This file contains the summary of unstructured interviews conducted between May and September 2020 (online). Experts are mainly academics from computer science, sociology and political science. They were asked about the promises and pitfalls of artificial intelligence (AI) for democratic processes. All data was anonymised. This data was used to write the manuscript that I submitted to Edward Edgar in September 2021 (currently under peer review process).

Literature Review

Author Duberry, Jerome
Publication date 28.10.2021
Persistent Identifier (PID) 10.26037/yareta:3luyk27yifdgnhq62qkv6ekqeq
Repository UNIGE YARETA
Abstract
This file contains the references to the articles stemming from the literature review conducted on Google Scholar and Web of Science with the following key words: “AI and democracy”, “AI and political participation”, “AI and citizens”, “Algorithm and democracy”, “Algorithm and political participation”, “Algorithm and citizens”. One sheet per keyword search. The results are organized by search engine: first Google scholar and then Web of Science. They include the date when the literature review was completed. Each reference includes also a direct link to the article. These data also allowed me to write the manuscript I submitted to Edward Elgar in September 2021 (currently under peer review process).

Expert mapping

Author Duberry, Jerome
Publication date 28.10.2021
Persistent Identifier (PID) 10.26037/yareta:4mhsdzlkc5dvbgzkh4aovxhzzi
Repository UNIGE YARETA
Abstract
This file contains the data stemming from the mapping of experts. Experts are mainly academics working on either AI and/ or democracy related topics. This file contains their name, affiliation, email, website, and keywords associated with their research. All data was collected during a desk research. All data was available on the web.These data helped me identify the experts to interview and to invite to the academic workshop. It also helped me write the manuscript I submitted to Edward Elgar in September 2021 (currently under peer review process).

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
La chancellerie d'Etat du Canton de Genève Switzerland (Europe)
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
European Consortium for Political Research Talk given at a conference Computational Politics: How to Respond to the Techniques and Technologies of Persuasion and Manipulation? 30.08.2021 Online , Austria Duberry Jérôme;
Colloque du Centre de compétences Dusan Sidjanski en études européennes Talk given at a conference Utilisation des technologies émergentes par la société civile 16.10.2020 Geneva, Switzerland Duberry Jérôme;
UACES virtual conference 2020 Talk given at a conference Contrasted media frames of AI during the COVID-19 pandemic 07.09.2020 Online , Great Britain and Northern Ireland Duberry Jérôme;


Self-organised

Title Date Place

Knowledge transfer events

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television Laisserons-nous l’IA révolutionner nos démocraties? RTS 1, Geopolitis Western Switzerland 2021
Media relations: print media, online media Le métier d’enseignant entre rupture et transition Enjeux Pédagogiques Western Switzerland 2020
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Technologies numériques et politique (blog) Le Temps Western Switzerland 2020

Abstract

This research project explores the current uses of AI in the citizen-government relation through a broad pluri-disciplinary literature review, 50+ expert interviews, an academic workshop, an online citizen consultation (on AI and democracy), and a survey sent to local and cantonal public administrations in Switzerland (in collaboration with two other academic institutions). This study shows that AI is already used by many governments in Europe to optimise and automate services and decision-making processes, including e-government services, political campaigning, and surveillance. Due to the specific characteristics of AI, these new practices raise numerous ethical and governance concerns, and increase the level of risk and uncertainty in the citizen-government relation. By adopting a design justice perspective, this study also highlight the asymmetry of power among actors in the development, management and use of AI. In this context, there is an urgent need to raise awareness and literacy about AI among citizen.
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