AI as a Threat to Democracy : Towards an Empirically Grounded Theory

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: Artificial intelligence has in recent years taken center stage in the technological development. Major corporations, operating in a variety of economic sectors, are investing heavily in AI in order to stay competitive in the years and decades to come. What differentiates this technology from traditional computing is that it can carry out tasks previously limited to humans. As such it contains the possibility to revolutionize every aspect of our society. Until now, social science has not given the proper attention that this emerging technological phenomena deserves, a phenomena which, according to some, is increasing in strength exponentially. This paper aims to problematize AI in the light of democratic elections, both as an analytical tool and as a tool for manipulation. It also looks at three recent empirical cases where AI technology was used extensively. The results show that there in fact are reasons to worry. AI as an instrument can be used to covertly affect the public debate, to depress voter turnout, to polarize the population, and to hinder understanding of political issues.  

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