Political Robots


An article in the Sunday Times suggests that politicians could be replaced with robots.

A number of jobs have been pointed out as jobs that could be done by humans. Certainly, many manufacturing jobs are done more precisely and safely by robots than by humans. Tasks that can lead to repetitive motion injuries can be passed over to machines for the benefit of human workers.

But there are many other jobs that could be done by machines. Models, for example, are required to have a certain look which may not be easy for human beings to achieve. Photographers models may have their look changed with Photoshop before they make it into magazine pages, and runway models do nothing that couldn’t be done by a machine.

So why not politicians? Given carefully constructed decision-making algorithms, a robot could present a speech written by a speechwriter, as most politicians do, and take on an arduous schedule of smiling, waving, and handshaking without any difficulty. Campaigning could well be a job that could be better done by a robot.

Debates might be a challenge, since no robot can handle language as well as a human being, but debates might also be unnecessary. If some trusted group of people could program a robot to use information to make wise decisions, campaigning might be obsolete. Our new robot president would be immune to pressure from special interest groups and lobbyists. It would have no embarrassing secrets in its past and no favors to repay. Votors could simply choose the face and body they preferred, and a team of engineers could put together a robot perfectly programmed to serve as president, unswayed by emotion or prejudices and capable of using data to make all decisions.

Assuming the programming was very good, the robot president could be trusted to make the rational decision on all issues. It could even be programmed to hold the moral and political positions of the majority of voters, as shown in national polls, so that the American people could be sure that their interests were being represented accurately.

This might take a lot of the excitement out of voting for the president, but we would still have the other branches of government to add a human touch to our government.

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