Can Artificial Intelligence stop corruption in Pakistan?

Can the power of AI be harnessed for battling the biggest enemy of progress?
Artificial Intelligence

▀ The Demon of Corruption

One of the biggest challenges faced by the Third world is that they have yet to tackle the biggest hindrance to economic and human development that is rampant in their executive and legislative structures: The demon of corruption.

This demon is multi threaded and is present in many forms throughout all levels of government and provides as a source of intense discomfort to citizens of countries afflicted by this disease. While it is true that the first world is also affected by corruption in government, the kind of corruption that is present in the first world mostly happens at highest levels of government and rarely affects the basic day to day operations that may serve as an impediment to national growth.

The citizens of the first world still have faith in the basic tenets of government such as the ability of the police force to provide them with safety and protection, the ability of the justice system to provide fair and quick resolution to court cases and finally the municipal and civil authorities to provide basic services to citizens such as the timely and hygienic disposal of garbage.

These are some of the very minor and basic features of  government that is the well deserved right of every citizen of any free democratic nation. Most of the countries in the third world aim to follow or at least present themselves as transitioning toward a democracy or a form of pseudo-democratic structure that has a figure head with diminished legislative power acting in a leading capacity. Regardless, citizens of the third world nations are subject to the most brutal forms of injustice at the hands of corrupt public officials. To understand the amount of intensity, a day in the life of an average middle class citizen of a city in the third world country can be examined in retrospective view. A comparative description can then be developed that discusses what would have happened had an AI been in charge of government in the same situation.

▀ A Retrospective analysis

retrospective ai 1


ai story third slide

The fourth slide

Final slide on AI

▀ Analysis of the issues

The retrospective view presents only a part of the amount of corruption that plays a pivotal role in destroying a common man’s life and harming his life and property. Many solutions to counter this corruption have been proposed and implemented and even though some effects have been observed in the form of reduced attempts at extortion and blackmail by public officials the corruption just changes faces and forms.

For example the case of the Pakistani traffic police can be observed in this context. A major reform program was introduced in the late 1990s when the National Highways and Motorways police was setup as a “corruption free” police department. The breakthrough was achieved via providing a very thorough system of training, better starting service ranks and higher salaries than the basic pay scales of regular traffic police units.

The Traffic police of Islamabad was modeled on this manner. The force was lauded as corruption free and was commended on having maintained a much better traffic order in the city. But it only takes one to dig a little deeper to understand how different circumstances entail a different coming of corruption. The keen observation of the Islamabad traffic police department causes the conclusion to be drawn that it may have a defined quota of fines on traffic violations that have to be handed out every month, and if a unlucky driver bumps into the police during one of these days the smallest and most senseless violation will earn one a fine. This conclusion is not one that is being endorsed or propagated here but rather simply being mentioned as the majority of the residents of the city have revealed in interviews. 

Often, as many residents have experienced, violations will be created out of thin air. The reason this happens is because the police are rewarded and lauded on the amount of violations they have caught. Again, the negativity has only changed its face. Also, as expected, influential public officials escape the axe of traffic police vigilance.

Why does this happen, regardless of so many reforms and legislation? The reason, as can be observed and deduced quite clearly is the presence of the human element in the decision making process. 

▀ Mental health and accidents

Building on the example of traffic, a very hot field which encompasses the idea of replacing human control with decisions made by artificial intelligence is the introduction and adoption of self driving cars. A huge amount of the fatalities that happen in traffic related incidents happen due to human errors. A misjudged calculation and not paying heed to warning signs results in one of the biggest causes of death in any country. Almost 90% of all car crashes happen due to a human error. Artificially intelligent cars are set to reduce that particular number by a large margin again equivalent to the number mentioned which would be around the same figure as 90%.

Research in Artificially intelligent systems in other vehicles such as airplanes are already set to improve many aspects of travel in that particular kind of vehicle, although it can be said that the technology is still in its infancy and serves as a very basic form of intelligence known in the AI community as weak AI. A self optimizing algorithm also falls in this category. This is the same kind of AI that ensures that you see relevant information related to your interests on your Facebook news feed while also making sure that you click on Ads that are suited to your liking. The application in aircraft range from civilian to military and the amount of expertise displayed by an AI pilot can vary from a simple take off and landing to beating a human counterpart in a dogfight. Back in June, an AI developed at the University of Cincinnati beat a recently retired US air force colonel in a simulated dogfight. The AI known as ALPHA was developed by a company known as Psibernetix, a company founded by Nick Ernest – a doctoral graduate at the University.   

Piloting an aircraft is a very advanced application of AI and the AI to be utilized in aircraft soon will not control the piloting experience completely though and are actually only a form of advanced control algorithms. The term AI is still not utilized to describe these forms of monitoring and control systems due to little or no presence of learning, but since the learning feature will definitely be introduced in any commercially launched software used in air and space vehicles, a weak AI with complete learning capabilities that enable it to improve its operation will be seen as part of aircraft very soon. 

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

To examine how this concept is already floating in our collective subconscious one needs to look no further than how games and movies with a science fiction theme almost always have an AI controlling the complete operations of spacecrafts and airplanes. Furthermore, AI are seen as controlling the smallest operations such as monitoring and controlling the vitals on a character’s suit (as in the case of the famed J.A.R.V.I.S). Even though AI controlled vehicles undergoing testing have completed more than 1.6 million km in distance  with only 14 minor collisions on public roads – most incidents in which human drivers rear ended the autonomous car. 

▀ German Wings 9525

Memorial at Dusseldorf airportIf one is to focus back on the field of aeronautics, the most recent human caused deliberate crashing of an aircraft involved a mentally ill pilot of a German wings aircraft, Andreas Lubitz. Investigations by German authorities revealed that the man had been making web searches on ways to commit suicide right before the crash and had been conducting extensive research on cockpit security systems.

He had also been shielding his illness from his employers. This man was responsible for the deaths of all 144 passengers on board the aircraft and all of the crew members including his own self.

This scenario would have turned out very differently had an AI been responsible for piloting the aircraft with no human inputs whatsoever.

Although, big budget sci-fi flicks are prevalent in causing an unfounded fear among common people regarding A.I, a fear which industry big wigs such as Elon Musk are also guilty of re-enforcing, the adoption of A.I into humanity’s mainstream culture is happening at a very rapid pace and ironically by the very companies owned by these particular individuals.

The Tesla model S, a car in a huge public demand boasts an Autopilot feature; a feature which has been demonstrated on multiple occasions to have allowed drivers to keep their hands off the steering.

Tesla’s autopilot system or Tesla software version 7.0 has also been involved in a major crash as of recently causing a fatality. Joshua Brown, a 40 year old resident of Canton, Ohio was killed when the car failed to brake in front of a turning trailer and instead decided to drive underneath it. The car’s sensors, failed to detect the white truck due to its height. In no case did the software cause the car to deliberately crash.

In actuality the software advises the driver to never let his hands and feet off the cars controls, even when the autopilot mode is engaged. The company now faces a US Senate investigation and the technology is under close scrutiny. However, one must keep in mind that the technology is still in its very early stages and is still not regarded as completely autonomous. Furthermore, driving is a  very advanced and complex task even for an A.I to master.

Can A.I in its present form be of any benefit in negating the vice of government corruption? The answer is that it will definitely reduce the amount to a very low negligible number, the reason being very simple. Humans will always be motivated be self-interest and are slaves to desire. The fact of the matter is that very few humans exist that are of impeccable character and adhere to the rules laid out by the system. As long as they remain in charge of mechanical tasks, corruption can never be countered.

Even the introduction of ICT into government processes still results in expansive failures. A very positing example is the automation of ID cards registration in Pakistan. A massive overhaul was introduced to the ID cards system in Pakistan when the Directorate General of Registration and National Database Organization were merged in the year 2000 to create NADRA or the National Database and Registration Authority. The process with which NADRA publishes ID cards is entirely automated and based on an electronic medium. However, since there is always a human element responsible for pressing the final button the entire overhaul still hasn’t managed to stop thousands of fake ID cards from being issued. Again, the presence of human element has caused the disaster and against the presence of an AI at the controls would have thwarted the resulting fake cards from ever having gone into circulation. The government today is at a loss and has to run an expensive campaign to re-validate the millions of ID cards in circulation.

To understand how much the effect of AI controlling the helm of executive affairs would result in a positive change in the life of an average citizen of a Third world nation, we recap the experiment our theoretical citizen Karim had when he had to deal with everyday corruption in his country.

Ai in control

the ai slide 4

The ai movement


▀ In conclusion

Going through the above scenario the context of artificial intelligence handling government functions, it becomes fairly obvious that an AI powered government executive branch would be able to execute functions in a much better manner. Organizations like, IEEE are already working on researching A.I. systems in government and have published multiple articles in their IEEE intelligent systems publication.

A.I. government needs to be adopted as quickly as possible by the Third world, if growth is to be sped up and human suffering and misery to be reduced. Already, countries such as Mexico face daily loss of lives owing to the collaboration of corrupt public officials and illegal organizations such as the drug cartels. Over 160,000 people have died during the long standing drug war. Police officials are routinely involved in corruption scandals and judges are regularly bribed. Mexican police officials have been involved in the kidnapping of innocent civilians; the notorious incident known as the Igoala mass kidnapping was allegedly masterminded by Igoala city mayor and his wife and aided by elements of the Federal police forces. The 43 missing have not been found to this date and are presumably dead. Similarly in Russia, bribery now forms an integral part of the economy. Moscow estimates that the Russian mafia controls around 40% of private business and 60% of state owned companies. Given the overwhelming size and power of this group it is impossible to bring it down by mere police and judicial effort, especially one rampant with corruption. In the coming years, with the introduction of AI in major fields it will only be a matter of time until A.I. led government is introduced. Fortunately, a brighter future awaits the Third world as a result of the onset of the A.I. revolution.



2 Comments on this post.
    30 August 2016 at 9:15 am
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    excelllentttiioo !!

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