Dr Steven McDermott
Qualitative Analysis and Social Media Lead, HMRC
Session: AI as Moderator/Mediator in the Recognition of Citizen’s Voice with Social Media at the Cambridge AI Summit in June 2018.
Abstract: Government departments are now utilising customer feedback channels and social media in an attempt to respond to crowdsourced insights and eventually informing policy. They are also using social media listening platforms to listen in to conversations taking place regarding their departments. They are also taking tentative steps into machine learning and AI techniques. The debates surrounding these tools have tended to frame such activity as surveillance and opening up the possibility of Armageddon with the rise of the machines. However, how can the voice of the citizen be recognised and responded to if these departments are discouraged from listening and using the latest tools? Does the utilisation of social media, machine learning and AI offer the potential means of escaping from the stranglehold of top–down, stage–managed politics. If millions of people could be the producers as well as receivers of political messages, could that invigorate democracy? And what role will machine learning and AI play in this emerging new media ecology? I intend to present a peak behind the curtain regarding the level of listening that is taking place and how machine learning and AI are being applied. Asking can this be done ethically and to enhance democratic processes and improve evidence based policy decisions. In which ways will democratic institutions have to change in order to meet these challenges?