Why picking citizens at random could be the best way to govern the A.I. revolution

Article by Hélène Landemore, Andrew Sorota, and Audrey Tang: “Testifying before Congress last month about the risks of artificial intelligence, Sam Altman, the OpenAI CEO behind the massively popular large language model (LLM) ChatGPT, and Gary Marcus, a psychology professor at NYU famous for his positions against A.I. utopianism, both agreed on one point: They called for the creation of a government agency comparable to the FDA to regulate A.I. Marcus also suggested scientific experts should be given early access to new A.I. prototypes to be able to test them before they are released to the public.

Strikingly, however, neither of them mentioned the public, namely the billions of ordinary citizens around the world that the A.I. revolution, in all its uncertainty, is sure to affect. Don’t they also deserve to be included in decisions about the future of this technology?

We believe a global, democratic approach–not an exclusively technocratic one–is the only adequate answer to what is a global political and ethical challenge. Sam Altman himself stated in an earlier interview that in his “dream scenario,” a global deliberation involving all humans would be used to figure out how to govern A.I.

There are already proofs of concept for the various elements that a global, large-scale deliberative process would require in practice. By drawing on these diverse and complementary examples, we can turn this dream into a reality.

Deliberations based on random selection have grown in popularity on the local and national levels, with close to 600 cases documented by the OECD in the last 20 years. Their appeal lies in capturing a unique array of voices and lived experiences, thereby generating policy recommendations that better track the preferences of the larger population and are more likely to be accepted. Famous examples include the 2012 and 2016 Irish citizens’ assemblies on marriage equality and abortion, which led to successful referendums and constitutional change, as well as the 2019 and 2022 French citizens’ conventions on climate justice and end-of-life issues.

Taiwan has successfully experimented with mass consultations through digital platforms like Pol.is, which employs machine learning to identify consensus among vast numbers of participants. Digitally engaged participation has helped aggregate public opinion on hundreds of polarizing issues in Taiwan–such as regulating Uber–involving half of its 23.5 million people. Digital participation can also augment other smaller-scale forms of citizen deliberations, such as those taking place in person or based on random selection…(More)”.