The rapid growth of artificial intelligence, with an expanding use in various sectors, will soon infiltrate political services en masse.
In some form, artificial intelligence is now integrated into applications used by many people, ranging from Netflix, who tailor programme recommendations, to Under Armour who track customer health and fitness activities. In 2016 alone, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and others released applications powered by artificial intelligence, with these trends leading to the International Data Corp prediction that by 2020, this hardware industry will grow from $8 billion to $47 billion.
While artificial intelligence services in these sectors are already exponentially growing, they are still in their infancy in the political sphere and have already proven to be influential and efficient.
‘MogAI’, a predictor of election outcomes, has been evolving since its creation in 2004. Since, ‘she’ has accurately predicted the outcome of US Presidential elections four times in a row, a success rate which has now extended to Primary elections for both Democratic and Republican parties. However, this only scratches the surface of the potential abilities of artificial intelligence in the future. Becoming directly involved in political and foreign policy outcomes, the benefits of artificial intelligence in combating modern day terrorism are being tapped into. In conjunction with an increased frequency of terrorist attacks in Western Europe, in June 2017, Facebook claimed that it will start using artificial intelligence to aid its mission in removing extremist content, including photos and videos of beheadings.
Recent developments expand this security potential even further, with the creation of ‘AVATAR’ at San Diego State University having the potential to act as a lie detector at airports, analysing over 50 distinguishing factors ranging from voice tone to pupil dilation. Being tested at airports in Arizona, ‘AVATAR’ has already proven to be a significant future tool for the US and others in protecting their security agendas, such as controlling migration from Mexico or to screen potential terrorist suspects.
More universally, IBM’s development, ‘Watson’, has pioneered the application of ‘cognitive computing’, aiming to enhance contextual value to the information dealt by various business professionals. This has been achieved by providing ‘Watson’ with the ability to reason and interpret information autonomously and at great speeds, outpacing the evaluative processes of humans alone. As a result, the potential uses of such artificial intelligence can prove to be endless when applied to political solutions. In a 2014 prediction, IBM argued that Watson has the potential of transforming the Public Sector, enhancing the experiences of citizens, formulating policies that achieve sustainable outcomes and the possibility of responding to new security threats that require swift evaluations.
A key aspect of this, beyond terrorism, is the imperative need to tackle cyber-crime. According to Risk Based Security, in 2016 alone there were a reported 4.2 billion business records leaked in over 4000 security breaches, exposing email addresses, passwords, medical and bank information. IBM claim that ‘Watson’ can perform 60 times faster than a human, drastically reducing the time spent analysing an incident, potentially preventing a cyber-attack from spreading, an outcome that can save money and more importantly, lives. This is an imperative development given the rise of cyber-attacks in the UK and beyond, such as the crippling May 2017 attack on the NHS, which simultaneously affected more than 150 countries.
It is clear artificial intelligence can transform the way governments and agencies deal with electoral campaigns and modern threats in a positive manner, using this new technology to work at an unprecedented rate, limiting the potential damage of cyber-attacks, halting the spread of extremism, while simultaneously having the potential ability of working in conjunction with politicians and governments directly.