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Harnessing AI to support democracy 

Submitted on Friday, April 26, 2024

This year’s very timely I.P. Sharp lecture features Beth Noveck, a scholar of AI and governance 

Northeastern University Professor Beth Noveck, who tests the policy development potential of AI at her Governance Lab, will elaborate on why she believes AI can play a transformative role in democratic societies when she delivers the Faculty of Information’s Ian P. Sharp Lecture on Wednesday May 8. 

In an article for the magazine Fast Company, Noveck, who was recently appointed  the state of New Jersey’s first Chief AI Strategist, explained that the Governance Lab is using artificial intelligence to unlock the experience and know-how of global experts. As an example she noted how “AI is making it faster and easier to identify innovative strategies to combat election-related violence and election subversion and strengthen our democracy.” 

IP Sharp lecture poster 2024

While many people have put large-language models like ChatGPT to use by having them create and generate content, Noveck notes that these models are also very good at organizing and summarizing content, often cutting out what would amount to days and weeks of work for humans. “Generative AI can rapidly sift and rank ideas, accelerating the process of evaluating evidence,” Noveck wrote, adding that unlike large groups of people, it doesn’t “get stuck arguing about the merits of different proposals, often based on who proposed them.”

Given all this, one of the bigger risks, according to Noveck, “will be the temptation to use generative AI to reduce, rather than increase, human participation. We are still learning how to combine artificial and collective intelligence efficiently… As we navigate this new frontier, let’s not forget: technology can inform, but people decide.” 

Noveck’s upcoming lecture is entitled From Ballots to Bots: AI’s transformative role in democratic societies. Established at the Faculty of Information in 1989, the Ian P. Sharp Lectureship brings internationally renowned individuals to the campus to explore the transformative effects of information practice. This year’s lecture is being held in partnership with the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society. 

Join the waiting list for tickets and get more information 


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