Artificial Intelligence in the public sector: From instrument to co-worker


At the recent meeting of the permanent studygroup on e-government of EGPA, we had some important discussions about the role of artificial intelligence in the public sector. One interesting analysis by Justin Bullock of Texas A&M University even suggested that ‘the street-level bureaucrat’ is dead (http://bush.tamu.edu/faculty/jbullock/).

This may not be the case yet but it is clear that important shifts are taking place. In a recent blogpost I wrote with my colleague Martijn Wessels we indicate that it is of great importance to study and understand the new interface between street-level bureaucrat and AI (see: http://media4sec.eu/blog-33/). Whereas we traditionally viewed technological systems as instruments for government, they increasingly assume a more equal position. An American company already appointed an algorithm as board director with a vote in decisions (https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-27426942).

In Information Polity, Peeters and Schuilenburg recently published a critical analysis of what they referred to as ‘machine justice’: governing security through the bureaucracy of algorithms (https://content.iospress.com/articles/information-polity/ip180074). Should we be afraid of a hostile take-over of the public sector by robots? In Information Polity we want to stimulate the debate on these issues and therefore please contact us if you have interesting ideas for a paper or even a special issue.

Albert Meijer, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Information Polity