Tech and Politics

Andreas Jungherr

Artificial intelligence and democracy (once more)

2024-01-17 20 min Season 2 Episode 9

Description & Show Notes

The success and widespread deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) have raised awareness of the technology’s economic, social, and political consequences. The most recent step in AI development -- the application of large language models (LLMs) and other transformer models to the generation of text, image, video, or audio content -- has come to dominate the public imaginary of AI and has accelerated this discussion. But to assess AI’s societal impact meaningfully, we need to look closely at the workings of the underlying technology and identify the areas of contact within democracy.

AI has become a pervasive presence in society. Recent technological advances have allowed for broad deployment of AI-based systems in many different areas of social, economic, and political life. In the process, AI has had - or is expected to have - a deep effect on each area it touches. We see examples in discussions about algorithmic shaping of digital communication environments and the associated deterioration of political discourse; the flooding of the public arena with false or misleading information enabled by generative AI; the future of work and AI’s role in replacement of jobs and related automation-driven unemployment; and AI’s impact on shifting the competitive balance between autocracies and democracies. With these developments, AI has also begun to touch on the very idea and practice of democracy.