Friday 22 March 2019 8:16 am

DEBATE: A third of voters would rather AI ran the country than politicians – so should robots move into Downing Street?

A third of voters would rather AI ran the country than politicians – so should robots move into Downing Street?

Takashi Sonoda, chief executive of internet of things company Uhuru, says YES.

The idea that an artificial intelligence (AI) device could wholly take over the decision making at the top of the British government is pure dystopian sci-fi, from a technical standpoint as well as a democratic one.

That said, Downing Street, like other public and private institutions, should seek to use and adopt machine-learning algorithms as well as other new technologies to help with the governing of the country.

The advantages are that decision making – a cornerstone of governance – becomes more accurate and quicker, while fewer resources (which, let’s not forget, are funded by taxpayers) are used. The embrace of AI and the internet of things (IoT) is already underway in the private sector, and the forthcoming 5G roll-out will enhance its effects. Downing Street should not leave itself behind.

As the former Labour foreign secretary Jack Straw has said, ministers face “a box full of decisions and another box full” while in power. AI, IoT, and other new technologies can assist with these workload issues. The “digi-spad” could just be around the corner.

Simon Gentry is a managing partner (public affairs) at Newgate Communications, says NO.

I love technology – the power and insights that it can deliver – and I recognise the great impact that it has had on the world.

But the idea that artificial intelligence can make profound moral or value judgements on complex human issues is untenable in a society which aspires to call itself civilised.

I spend my days talking to ministers, MPs, officials, and their advisers about decisions that affect the wellbeing of millions of people in the UK. While we may feel rather ambivalent – at best – about the way the current crop of politicians is mishandling Brexit, what is true is that the vast majority are trying to do the right thing for most people, most of the time.

Compassion and the realisation that “there but for the grace of God go I” are core to what makes most politicians tick. This should be the guiding principle for government, rather than leadership via algorithm.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.