Updated: Aug 31, 2020

AI, year by year has shown its potential to impact democracies in both positive and negative ways. In particular, the positive impacts seem to be many and we can raise the debate to this, in its ability to foster community cohesion, protect privacy, as well as simply back the public good.

AI is not just capable of extracting value but of societal empowerment. AI nevertheless is one of the critical human rights issues of our lifetime, whilst also defined by Kevin Scott, the CTO of Microsoft as fundamental to being an informed 21st century citizen.


Open source intelligence is the accumulation and analysis of free and available public information. This empowers solutions for cryptology, security, and ensure governments are properly scrutinized.

A review was conducted by the Universidade Nove de Julho of Brazil, which found up to 250 examples of open source intelligence (OSINT) using AI in works published between 1990 and 2019. Subjects have included using ai for crawling web text to applications for social media and cyber security.


Due to AI’s ability to process data at scale, Stanford University researchers conducted an examination of recorded conversations between police officer and people stopped for traffic violations. Deploying computational linguistics, the researchers were able to demonstrate and highlight officers tended top pay less respect to African American citizens during traffic stops.

Work published in the 2017 Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, suggested ways in which police body cameras can be updated with AI and used to build trust between communities and law enforcement agencies.


AI can be used to fight deep fakes and tackle misinformation. For instance, many examples are shown by Full Fact’s work with Africa Check, and Open Data Institute to automate fact-checking as part of the Google AI Impact Challenge.

Deepfakes are a major cause for concern especially leading up to the US election later this year, NYU’s centre for business and human rights warned of highly advanced domestic forms of disinformation, as well as potential external interference from China or Russia.

The Deepfake Detection Challenge aims to counter deceptive information, and Facebook themselves have also introduced data sets of videos for training and benchmarking deep fake detection systems.


In LA County, individuals who are homeless and white are 1.4 times more likely to exit homelessness than people of color, a situation which could be related to housing policy and discrimination. Structural racism may indeed be the cause African Americans make up only 8% of the county’s population but nearly 34% of its homeless population.

USC is therefore working on ways AI can help ensure quality housing is equitably distributed, announcing over 1.5 million dollars in funding and partnership with the LA Homeless Services Authority.


We hope to have shown few of the many ways in which AI can be used for the good of mankind. It’s ability to different to a human being means it has no bias in determining structural factors of our society, ranging from racism to sexism. It can help fight against distrust, keep organizations and individuals accountable. AI can and does have the ability to help people and build stronger societies, being an observer of humanity from afar. But only if used and created in the right way.

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