Inside Politics

Is AI the way out vicious cycle of bad leadership?

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 00:00 |
Artificial Intelligence.


Power belongs to the people is a common phrase used by politicians but is has often proved to be a fallacy in the world of democracy where manipulation is the language of politics. 

But can there be a way of protecting a country from being led by nation stranglers and deceivers?

Could Artificial Intelligence (AI), driven by big data be our next frontier in choosing worthwhile leaders and should Kenya take it up as an experimental inquiry of sorts?

The political world is slowly evolving with technology and AI is proving to be an almost ineluctable affair masked in algorithms, formulas and data analysis that has taken root in political campaigns as demonstrated in the 2016 United States elections and UK’s Brexit referendum. 

In Kenya, the mention of Cambridge Analytica evokes the usefulness of political campaigns adopting technology, particularly AI, for better decisions while employing efficiency through the data supplied. 

The country’s democratic space is dominated by leaders who have embraced a Manichaean form of politics – a disempowering and corrosive type of politics highlighted in a 2017 John Dewey lecture, that describes it as one that embraces hate as a machinery to attain political clout.

This is further argued that hatred is easier to activate than public love and may as well follow the ideology that negativity sells.

This to them is a convenient weapon of political destruction that focuses on causing divisions through antagonistic behaviour. 

Despite efforts by President Uhuru Kenyatta to foster unity for the sake of peace, some politicians are busy cultivating division and political polarisation, including inciting class wars between the rich and the poor. 

In his quest for power, Deputy President William Ruto has for instance, been selling a manipulative economic model, sugar coated under the name bottom-up economic model that lacks authenticity.

There is also an attempt to inculcate the culture of handouts and killing the spirit hard work and of having a sustainable self-sufficient economy.

Artificial Intelligence can be a plausible route to expose and fix manipulative schemes  aimed at trapping Kenyans. 

In the world of Artificial Intelligence, a super intelligent information system may be used as a tool to determine the information that is spreading in social circles. 

The system, through algorithms, can determine what we do, what we think and how we feel.

This information should then be efficiently and effectively analysed to prevent unworthy leaders from entering the democratic space.

This is knowing full well that no society has ever achieved a perfect system.

If algorithms can be used to determine who is likely to commit a crime, then it may as well be useful in determining the future political positions of popular but dangerous leaders and deter the likelihood of a dictatorial leader being elected. 

This is not new as algorithms under AI have been used to by governments to shape behaviour and may as well prove useful through a positive manipulation of a new scale. 

Likewise for Kenya, it would be a step in shaping a country’s political future towards the right direction and its adoption would require an ownership that is of a guarded secret. 

Can Kenya change its conduct of politics through fully embracing Artificial Intelligence?  — The writer is a communications consultant and graduate student in corporate communications —[email protected]

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