AI technology could reshape the U.S. government, but should it?

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Artificial intelligence is already making its mark on the global economy, and private companies are not the only ones doing well. Government agencies of all types also adopt AI and in some ways exceed the ability of the private sector to leverage AI for massive data analytics and cutting-edge applications.

Whether it sounds like innocent use of new technology or a reprehensible conspiracy to control citizens, of course, depends on your political perspective. However, there is no denying that the same technology that is currently driving giants like Facebook and Amazon to exploit user information in the pursuit of profits is also available to all aspects of government, including taxation, defense, intelligence agencies and other key entities like agriculture. and labor.

What can AI do for the government?

According to a recent report by Deltek, federal spending on AI in the United States increased by 50% between 2018 and 2020, reaching nearly $ 1 billion – making it the fastest growing technology of any new technology. Although AI was once the science facing sciences like NASA and the Department of Energy, this technology is now migrating across the public spectrum in the pursuit of improving performance, creating operational efficiency, and reducing waste, fraud, and abuse. This transformation is largely driven by legislation and policy directives from the highest levels of government.

So what can AI really do for the government? Lots, according to Boston Consulting Groups Nadim Abillama, Steven Mills, Greg Boison and Miguel Carrasco. First, it can promote better policy-making by providing decision-makers with more accurate and timely information on demographics, behavioral trends, and a wide range of other metrics. At the same time, it can quickly provide the kind of analytical feedback needed to determine if a particular policy or program is working as intended and at the expected cost level.

AI can also reinvent the (often dismal) user experience with government agencies. Ranging from chatbot-powered self-help tools to more customized interactions based on personal stories, socioeconomic factors, qualification requirements, and a host of other datasets. Anyone who has tried to navigate the maze of rules and regulations on e.g. Internal Revenue Service, could appreciate the help of any intelligence, whether artificial, biological or otherwise. In many cases, e.g. With Veterans Administration or Medicare / Medicaid, performance improvements can be life-saving, even if the cost reductions reach billions of dollars.

Local help

But it’s not just the federal level that is wading into the AI ​​waters. State and local governments are also getting their feet wet. San Leandro, California, a city with a population of 90,000, recently installed a platform called CityDash, which provides a comprehensive, intelligent data visualization framework for a wide range of municipal services. The system provides tools such as a mobile chatbot for sharing data on everything from crime incidents, to building permits and community events. CityDash also has a cloud-based knowledge graph with machine learning features for analyzing IoT datasets regarding traffic flow, utilities and even the weather. There is also a public-facing dashboard that assists citizens with non-emergency services and general inquiries.

AI is already nurturing the development of smart cities that are expected to provide all sorts of societal benefits, says AJ Abdallat, CEO of AI development firm Beyond Limits. With better traffic management, we should e.g. See lower CO2 emissions, fewer traffic jams, fewer accidents and improvements in infrastructure development and repair. At the same time, cities should be able to manage utilities such as water and electricity as well as services such as waste collection and public safety in a more finite way, manage resources where they are most needed, and reduce waste or duplication of work. And this will not only improve local operations, but also the often difficult coordination that takes place between local, state and federal authorities as well as quasi-state and private entities.

The government is in a unique position when it comes to AI, implementing it at the same time as it seeks to regulate it. While transparency has been one of the hallmarks of recent efforts to place some control over how companies utilize AI, certain government segments, particularly at the federal level, may not be as open. It will only create suspicion about what agencies are doing with our data and how they are being investigated and manipulated.

At a time when mistrust of both the government and AI is running high, the idea that somewhere in government uses AI behind closed doors will only increase public unrest, no matter how much technology improves public services.

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