Sonny Iroche contends that even with its drawbacks, AI has the potential to revolutionise our approach to governance and decision-making

In recent years, the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics has sparked a debate about the revolutionary impact of the nascent technology and the potential for these technologies to replace humans, such as politicians and bureaucrats in government. The idea of unbiased algorithms generating robots that are free from the shortcomings of incompetence and corruption associated with some of these professionals has become of particular interest to me, because of the fact that a country as blessed as Nigeria, had been brought to a near comatose state of economic depression, as a result of past incompetent and corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.

Now as an AI scholar and enthusiast, it is clear to some of us in that space and field of studies and research, that with AI’s proven ability to perform tasks with close to zero margin of error, it begs the question: Can robotic AI perform better than politicians and bureaucrats?

Governments around the world have faced numerous cases of incompetence, social and financial scandals, and corruption among their leaders. Transparency International and other socio-political watchdogs have consistently ranked countries based on their perceived levels of corruption and governance effectiveness. From presidents and prime ministers to state governors and parliamentarians, the list of officials charged with corruption and misappropriation of public funds is extensive. Could a leader programmed with AI be the solution to this pervasive issue?

The efficiency and productivity of AI in various tasks have been well-documented. From drug discovery to the cure of diseases that have long eluded human researchers, AI has shown its capacity to outperform humans in many areas. For example, AI has consistently defeated world champions in games like Chess and Go, showcasing its superiority in strategic decision-making and problem-solving capabilities.

In the case of Nigeria and the challenges that the country currently faces, have been as a result of prolonged economic crimes against the sovereignty by men and women who have been charged with the administration of the country’s resources for several decades in the past. Clear examples abound in nearly every field of the country, in critical sectors of the economy and overall development. The bureaucracy has long been fraught with endemic bribery and corruption, inefficiency and ineffectiveness in nearly all aspects of our national life – ranging from the civil service, Ports Authority Administration, Customs, Police, Immigration, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and crude oil theft, allegedly by humans who were put in charge of running and protecting the main national asset, the Central Bank of Nigeria (that became a Bureau De Change for a few), and dabbled into all manner of unrelated functions of a Central Bank, and almost all agencies of government are immersed in misappropriation of public funds and resources.

Considering these advancements in technology, the idea of using AI in governance is not far-fetched. International organizations such as the United Nations, ASEAN Union, African Union, BRICS and other regional blocs should initiate discussions on the potential applications of AI in leadership roles. By leveraging algorithms to create effective and efficient systems for both public and private sector leaders, could AI help address some of the longstanding challenges facing humanity, such as wars, conflicts, hunger, diseases, climate change, nuclear proliferation and corruption?

The use of AI in governance on the other hand, however, raises some important ethical and practical considerations. While AI may offer solutions to some of the problems plaguing governments worldwide, there are concerns about accountability, transparency, and the potential for bias in AI decision-making. How can we ensure that AI-driven leadership is fair and equitable for all members of society? What safeguards need to be put in place to prevent abuse of power by AI systems? That is the reason that every country or economic bloc, come up with a Regulatory Framework for the application of AI. The USA, China, UK, and the European Union (EU), have already led with that initiative of creating regulations around the use of AI. (In my publication: “The Need for the Creation of a Regulatory Framework for AI” published in the New Diplomat Newspaper; I had called on the federal government of Nigeria to establish an AI regulatory framework and authority)

One potential benefit of AI in governance is its ability to analyze vast amounts of data, through Generative AI (GAI), Machine Learning (ML), and Large Language Models (LLM), quickly and accurately. By processing information from various sources, AI systems can provide insights that human leaders may overlook. This data-driven approach to decision-making could lead to more informed policies and strategies, potentially improving the overall effectiveness of government operations.

Additionally, AI could help streamline bureaucratic processes and reduce inefficiencies in government agencies. By automating routine tasks and optimizing resource allocation, AI systems could free up human officials to focus on more strategic and high-level responsibilities. This could lead to a more agile and responsive government that is better equipped to address the needs of its citizens.

However, the integration of AI into governance is not without its challenges. One major concern is the potential for AI systems to perpetuate existing biases and discrimination. If AI algorithms are trained on data that reflects historical inequalities, they may inadvertently reinforce these biases in their decision-making processes. To prevent this, it is essential to develop AI systems that are transparent, accountable, and regularly audited for fairness.

Another challenge is the risk of AI systems being manipulated or hacked to serve malicious purposes, such as rigging elections, and population head counts in national census. Ensuring the security and integrity of AI systems in governance will be crucial to preventing unauthorized access and manipulation of sensitive government data. Strong cybersecurity measures and robust oversight mechanisms will be necessary to safeguard AI-driven governance systems from external threats.

There is also this notion that the implementation of AI would lead to job losses. The answer is Yes and No. For the proponents of job losses; they are right to the extent of the types and manning of jobs. And for those who say No, that AI would not lead to job losses per say, they argue that in enhancing productivity and efficiency, it would create greater opportunities in the economic value chain, that would need workers to retrain in new fields that would be needed as a result of AI applications to business.

In conclusion, the debate over whether robotic AI can outperform human politicians and bureaucrats is complex and multifaceted. While AI has demonstrated impressive capabilities in various domains, the integration of AI into governance poses unique challenges and considerations. By engaging in thoughtful discussions and collaboration, national, international organizations and governments can explore the potential benefits of AI in leadership roles while addressing the ethical and practical concerns associated with this technology. The future of AI in governance is uncertain, but with careful planning and strategic implementation, it has the potential to revolutionize the way we approach governance and decision-making on a global scale. For me, it is clear that the benefits of an AI-fuelled governance system, far outweighs its perceived drawbacks.

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