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Here's how AI will empower citizens and enhance liberty

OpinionHere's how AI will empower citizens and enhance liberty

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When Sir Francis Bacon first said, “Knowledge itself is power,” he was making a case for how knowledge is a fulcrum for the individual and society in moving us forward. In short, progress is based on understanding. 

In the age of information, the power of understanding cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to the intricate dance of governance and citizen involvement. 

Generative AI, particularly through models like GPT, is playing an increasingly pivotal role in enhancing personal liberty by illuminating the often opaque processes of government and law. This is not just about making legal texts more accessible; it’s about fostering a society of informed, aware and thus more empowered citizens.

At the heart of democracy lies the principle that governance should be of the people, by the people, for the people. However, this noble ideal faces significant hurdles when the very materials that govern people’s lives – the laws, regulations, and legislative bills – are wrapped up in layers of complexity and jargon. 

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Consider that it is not uncommon for a legislative bill to be over 1,000 pages long. The Consolidated Appropriations Act passed for COVID relief was 5,593 pages. The Affordable Care Act was 2,500 pages. Dodd-Frank was over 1,800 pages. 

Compare that to the 1913 personal income tax bill, which was only 14 pages long, or the EPA Act of 1970, which was a remarkable four pages in length.

Expecting any human to fully understand all of the implications of a typical 800- to 1,000-page bill is not simply foolish, it is also dangerous. We have entered an era where understanding has taken a back seat to what is effectively a political game of purposeful obfuscation. 

Enter Generative AI, which has the remarkable capability to digest these dense documents and present them in a digestible way to the lay person. This transformation is akin to turning a professional medical textbook into a series of engaging blog posts on health and wellness; the essence and accuracy remain, but the accessibility is profoundly increased.

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Consider the impact on a community when a new housing law is proposed. Traditionally, the complexity of the legal language might deter public participation, limiting the discourse to a small group of experts – who are no less likely to fully understand all of the implications and ramifications of the bill. 

However, with Generative AI, the key points and implications of the law can be quickly and accurately summarized in plain language. This not only enlightens the average citizen but also invites broader, more inclusive discussions about the law’s potential impact on the community.

 Informed citizens are better equipped to voice their opinions, engage in meaningful debates and hold their representatives accountable.

Generative AI’s ability to tailor information to specific contexts further enhances its role in fostering informed citizenry. By providing customized explanations of legal and legislative matters, AI makes it possible for individuals to grasp how broader policies affect their personal and community life. 

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This targeted information empowers citizens to make informed decisions, whether it’s voting on a ballot measure, participating in public forums or simply engaging in civic dialogue.

For instance, in the face of environmental regulations, a Generative AI system could help a local farmer understand not just the regulations themselves, but their implications for farming practices, sustainability efforts and even economic viability. This level of understanding promotes a more engaged and proactive citizenry, capable of contributing to the governance process in meaningful ways.

The role of Generative AI in increasing personal liberty extends beyond individual empowerment to the very foundations of democracy. By facilitating greater transparency and accessibility in the governmental process, AI helps to bridge the gap between government actions and public understanding. 

This transparency is crucial for trust, a fundamental element in the relationship between citizens and their government. When people understand the rationale behind laws and policies, their trust in the processes that create these laws will likely increase.

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This enhanced involvement and awareness among citizens, fostered by Generative AI, can lead to more responsive and accountable governance. 

Politicians and lawmakers, aware of a more informed and attentive electorate, may be more inclined to consider the public’s input in their decision-making processes. This creates a virtuous cycle of engagement, where informed citizens drive transparent governance, which in turn fosters greater public involvement and awareness.

As Generative AI continues to evolve, its potential to transform the landscape of civic engagement and democratic participation seems boundless. The technology promises not just a more informed citizenry, but a more vibrant, participatory democracy where the gap between the governing and the governed narrows. 

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In doing so, Generative AI doesn’t just increase personal liberty; it revitalizes the very essence of what it means to be an active participant in the democratic process.

The role of AI in enhancing personal liberty is profound, offering a new horizon where every citizen is not only informed but empowered to engage with the governmental process. This is the promise of technology at its best: not merely to change how we live, but to enrich our participation in the collective journey of governance and democracy.

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