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Posthuman For President

July 11, 2017

Artificial intelligence, AI, robot

U.S. Presidents routinely let their emotions and personality get in the way of doing the job—witness Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon and the present occupant of the White House. “It’s human weakness—jealousy, greed, lust, nepotism—that most often upends presidencies,” according to an article in Politico that muses about a neat way to sidestep those perils; install a robot in the oval office, or at least assign one to assist the poor chump who sticks him/herself with the job. The article quotes Jonathan Zittrain, an internet law professor at Harvard Law School, who says that computers could serve as dependable checks against human biases. The Machine in Chief wouldn’t be a contraption sitting behind that desk that you see Presidents behind during televised speeches. It would be a computer in a closet grinding away at solving tough problems 24/7. “We could wind up with an executive branch that works harder, is more efficient and responds better to our needs than any we’ve ever seen,” according to the article. One expert points to Trump’s travel ban as an example of a presidential decision that turned out badly because its legal and constitutional implications weren’t fully grasped or thought through. A computer could have analyzed the likely legal responses by opponents and courts, he says—a task that computers are already doing in law firms and law departments.

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