Can Artificial Intelligence Bring Deliberation to the Masses?

Chapter by Hélène Landemore: “A core problem in deliberative democracy is the tension between two seemingly equally important conditions of democratic legitimacy: deliberation, on the one hand, and mass participation, on the other. Might artificial intelligence help bring quality deliberation to the masses? The answer is a qualified yes. The chapter first examines the conundrum in deliberative democracy around the trade-off between deliberation and mass participation by returning to the seminal debate between Joshua Cohen and Jürgen Habermas. It then turns to an analysis of the 2019 French Great National Debate, a low-tech attempt to involve millions of French citizens in a two-month-long structured exercise of collective deliberation. Building on the shortcomings of this process, the chapter then considers two different visions for an algorithm-powered form of mass deliberation—Mass Online Deliberation (MOD), on the one hand, and Many Rotating Mini-publics (MRMs), on the other—theorizing various ways artificial intelligence could play a role in them. To the extent that artificial intelligence makes the possibility of either vision more likely to come to fruition, it carries with it the promise of deliberation at the very large scale….(More)”