Saturday, December 2, 2023

AIs Writing Law


Can AI be used to write legislation? You would think so, since the AI learns from existing examples. Problem might be that existing examples have given us laws with unintended consequences.

It's been done, and the legislation passed, unanimously, in Porto Alegre, a city of 1.3 million in Brazil. 

It is obvious that if the AI is asked correctly, it can produce legislation, written in correct legalese, to get some action enacted with a minimum of feather ruffling. I expect is would be equally easy to get the machine to include some pork into any bill it writes, in the parts where accountability is discussed. EX: “The city of Metropolis shall obligate itself to allocate the sum of $20M/year for the next 5 years, toward the construction and startup of a <insert project here> “.

OK fine. Now include justification, supervision, reporting, etc, etc, to include a standing study/audit committee consisting of cronies to be appointed by the bill sponsor, to hold seats, accountable to no one but the bill sponsor, to monitor expenditures and prepare an annual progress report. At a generous salary, 10% of which will find its way to the bill sponsors reelection campaign.

Legislation of this nature can get to be quite lengthy, and can wind up being added to some other unrelated legislation which will serve to attract less attention than the original might if submitted by itself. The AI is essentially just an editor, and humans will need to read anything it produces to catch any included fairy tales. AI work is known to include from 3-25% made-up “facts”, so check its work. Ex: “This project is estimated to save the taxpayers of Metropolis some $100M over the estimated cost of <insert political rivals project> thus paying for itself over its <insert random number here> year life span in addition to preventing the sky from falling and wiping out humanity.”

The average legislator couldn't write a thank you letter to Santa Claus that a 4th grade English teacher would give a passing grade to, so people who know how to write requests to AIs are getting paid $200-250K/year to do this. Could turn into the most lucrative job in government. As to jobs lost, imagine that if legislators use AIs to write their proposals, we will need to hire proofreaders, math checkers, economists, and possibly physicists. There are certain laws that cannot be rewritten.

The unintended consequences are an important part of any legislation proposed, so I have to wonder if getting the AI to spot these and address them is, at this point, even possible. Certainly they are not visible to humans.

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