Give the machine a chance, human experts ain’t that great…

A mini-paper by Petr Špecián and Lucy Císař Brown has been published in AI &  Society journal. Full text is available here

Petr and Lucy argue that, despite their flaws, large language models (LLMs) deserve a fair chance to prove their mettle against human experts, who are often plagued with biases, conflicts of interest, and other frailties. For epistemically unprivileged laypeople struggling to access expert knowledge, the accessibility advantages of LLMs could prove crucial. While concerns about LLMs' inconsistencies and arguments for human superiority are often justified (for now), they may distract from the urgent need to prepare for the likely scenario of LLMs' continued ascent. Experimentation with both the capabilities and institutional architecture of LLMs is necessary. As LLMs are here to stay and they keep improving, it is high time we started thinking about how to navigate the impending wave of their proliferation.

Machine Advisors: Integrating Large Language Models into Democratic Assemblies

A preprint by Petr Špecián available via SSRN

Abstract: Large language models (LLMs) represent the currently most relevant incarnation of artificial intelligence with respect to the future fate of democratic governance. Considering their potential, this paper seeks to answer a pressing question: Could LLMs outperform humans as expert advisors to democratic assemblies? While bearing promise of enhanced expertise availability and accessibility, they also present challenges of hallucinations, misalignment, or value imposition. Weighing LLMs’ benefits and drawbacks compared to their human counterparts, I argue for their careful integration to augment democracy’s ability to address complex policy issues. The paper posits that time-tested democratic procedures like deliberation and voting provide safeguards effective against both human and machine advisor imperfections. Additional protective layers, such as boosting representatives’ competencies in query formulation or implementation of adversarial proceedings (expert debates and dissenting opinions), could further mitigate the risks that LLMs present in advisory role. While my exploration remains conceptual, it sets the stage for an empirical research agenda and offers a roadmap for the co-evolution of AI and democratic institutions. The stakes are high: success or failure in integration of the transformative AI technologies could spell the difference between the current democratic backsliding and a new wave of democratic efflorescence driven by an improved ability to tackle the difficult challenges of our time.

A Case for Democracy’s Digital Playground

Petr Špecián has published the outline of his idea on using digital worlds to expedite institutional innovation on The Loop, a blog by The European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR). You can read his essay here