How Can AI Be Used in Governance?

How Can AI Be Used in Governance?

From preventing tax evasion to mitigating natural disasters, here is everything AI can help the government sector with.

One of the many things that artificial intelligence (AI) is capable of doing is helping governments function smoothly. In a previous article, we discussed that, over time, AI would be responsible for more decision-making. As such, it can help governments worldwide make tough decisions by ridding the decision-making process of human biases.

To understand the full extent of what AI can do for the public sector, here is a look at the various benefits of using AI in governance. 

Hitting the mark with social welfare schemes

One of the most important roles of any government is to ensure the welfare of its citizens. Thus, a government needs to ensure that any welfare schemes it undertakes reach the right people. AI can help by checking who is eligible for a scheme and monitoring how to deliver its benefits. For instance, if there is a food delivery system devised by the government for economically-disadvantaged groups, AI could predict inventory (analyzing the demand for products) and ensure that enough food items are available for all. 

Preventing tax evasion

AI works by analyzing historical data and using it to draw inferences about what might happen in the future. This makes it a perfect assistant for the government’s tax department as it can predict tax evasion patterns. AI can sift through massive amounts of information and find any potential clues of tax fraud that an official might have missed.

Helping military operations 

AI’s predictive powers are also very beneficial to the armed forces by helping them make better decisions on the battleground. It can also help track enemy activity based on the reports it receives from soldiers. Besides helping during a military operation, AI can provide failure rate predictions (based on the data collected from the sensors inside the equipment) of military equipment. This ensures that everything is prepped and ready for when there’s a threat. 

Mitigating natural disasters

AI can foretell the likelihood of a natural disaster. It can use real-time seismic activity and satellite imagery to find commonalities between current conditions and previous disaster situations. For instance, it can map out the dryness of forests, thus allowing public authorities to put mitigation measures in place. It can also forecast the impact of a natural disaster on the local population and the ecosystem at large.

Averting health crises

Given the widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our everyday lives, governments would want to ensure that they are prepared to handle any future health crisis. This is particularly important given that novel health crises are estimated to grow threefold in the next couple of decades. The massive records of data available today can be analyzed by AI to understand and predict the occurrence of nearly everything, from communicable diseases (like COVID-19) to mental health conditions. For instance, Australian scientists have developed an AI that can go through a person’s social media posts and use them to find out whether they are suffering from depression or not. 

Is AI the answer to all governance problems? 

These are some of the many public sector areas where AI can assist. Although AI is very useful, there are some major downsides to using it. One of the biggest ones is that it may encroach upon citizens’ privacy. All the different uses of AI we mentioned entail the use of public data. This essentially means, if AI is used in the public sector, people would be watched like a hawk no matter where they are and what they are doing. 

Another thing to consider is that, since AI relies on data, if there are any issues in the data quality, the results would turn out to be unfavorable. Also, if things don’t fall under the patterns that the AI was trained on, then it wouldn’t be able to make reliable predictions. Of course, we cannot ignore the possibility of a cybersecurity threat. Hackers might deploy viruses or malicious AIs to deter the functioning of public sector AIs. Therefore, any attempts to incorporate AI systems into the public sector have to be followed with a significant investment in security mechanisms.  

AI adoption efforts are not a blanket solution to any governance problem. All they can do is help public officials, but that, too, is only possible if the data is of high quality and the system is regularly fed newer data. While these challenges are yet to be addressed, human involvement in governance will remain relevant and necessary. 

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Header image courtesy of Envato

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