Western democracies are confronted with collapsing trust in their governments and surging nationalist movements. These phenomena have a particularly cruel timing, occurring contemporaneously with the rise of complex, global problems that urgently require coordinated, collective action.
As the world becomes increasingly complicated and interconnected, the decisions of governments, corporations, and large institutions have become less accessible to the average citizen. Whether in relation to data privacy, climate change, or automation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, citizens are being asked to accept decisions made by experts whose knowledge they can't match or evaluate. The average citizen, whose voice and consent was once proclaimed as essential to the functioning of democracy and legitimized political power, is now being asked to yield more authority to experts. And the governed aren’t thrilled by it.
Artificial intelligence will drive future policy decision-making. Backed by complex machines studying complex social phenomena, government action will become even more impenetrable and inscrutable for the people most affected by a changing world. As much as the average citizen may resist giving up political authority to a panel of climate scientists, how will they react to healthcare decisions being made by AI algorithms, or factories closing based on computer simulations? The outbreak of rebellions against the expert class which has characterized US and European politics will likely accelerate.