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Romania taps AI to make policy decisions amid global concerns

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has triggered a frenzy among global administrators, but Romanian administrators are going against the grain by embracing the technology for policy recommendations.

Romanian authorities recently unveiled Ion, an AI-powered bot designed to assist the government in making informed policy decisions, the Financial Times reported. The report offered a glimpse into the internal workings of the AI bot, noting that it searches through a data trove on social media from citizens using comments and hashtags.

The data obtained is broken down into reports for the country’s officials and assumes the role of an honorary government adviser. Members of the public will have the option of chatting with the bot on the project’s website as an added functionality to assist the government in feeling the pulse of its actions.

“It’s the first attempt, the first experiment, in using AI to connect average citizens to their decision-makers. I think it has great potential to strengthen democracy and consolidate the legitimacy of governments,” Romania’s Minister of Innovation Sebastian Burduja said.

Romania’s prime minister Nicolae Ciucă hailed the researchers for the launch of the AI bot, saying that the project is key in bringing governance one step closer to the people. However, Nicu Sebe, the research coordinator behind the offering, clarified that Ion’s suggestions are not final but are designed to merely guide the decisions of the executive.

The new offering, hailed as the first of its kind, has attracted criticisms from skeptics on the grounds that relying on data from social media could skewer the results. Kris Shrishak, a fellow at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, stated that not all citizens are active on social media, and certain agendas may be given prominence based on the popularity of accounts.

“Certain voices will be amplified, especially if you post regularly,” Shrishak pointed out. “That is also the reason the public needs to know how that is going to decide which voices are going to be chosen and which ones are going to strongly influence whatever policy is put in place.”

Scrambling to police AI

In April, the U.K. government joined other countries scrambling to increase control over AI developments by announcing the creation of a new task force to protect consumers. The task force received $124.8 million from the government and will report directly to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Technology Secretary Michele Donelan.

The European Union is inching toward the launch of its AI Act which experts believe could tighten control over the sector. On the other hand, China has banned OpenAI’s ChatGPT for its citizens as it continues to back homegrown alternatives under strict controls.

The digital currency industry has borne the brunt of rogue AI projects, losing millions worth of digital currencies in rug pulls and ice phishing transactions.

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