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 (

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: 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 (

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 ( 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