ARTIFICIAL intelligence is not about Alexa or Google Assistant or even Chat-GPT or Google Bard.

It is the ability to dictate any combination of circumstances, real or imagined, define an objective or desired outcome and receive an answer based objectively on all the data on the Internet and set out as options with logical consequences, ie: “What if …?”.

It is also the basis for intelligent machines having similar capabilities and being able to communicate with humans and each other. It’s here already but will be an everyday tool for us very, very soon.

From here it is but a short step to the machine acquiring the stimulation and ability to initiate its own questions and answers and, as a robot, the ability to act independently. One of the greatest authorities on AI, Professor Geoffrey Hinton, has recently resigned from a lucrative part-time post with Google.

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He has done so in order to express publicly his concern that we should tread carefully as this science had an equally unlimited potential for good and evil – dependent not upon the science but upon who controls it.

Bear in mind that several mega-corporations already have technical access to most of our lives through our computers and are invested heavily in this technology.

Soon, they will be able to sort all of this data into exception and selection algorithms. That means all the tools of science fiction become available. So before we consider the immense benefit AI could bring to our lives it is mature to keep in mind the very real risks which accompany this imminent journey.

An early response to Hinton’s warning was that this development must be regulated by the political process. It is already in the preliminary stages of EU legislation.

The prospect of the present genre of politicians in Westminster or Washington regulating the development and application of artificial intelligence conjures up visions of role reversal and unlikely folk being put in charge of the institution. Surely the greatest potential for AI will be in lifting democratic government above the present and less attractive elements which hobble and plague the familiar status quo?

How can we possibly expect or trust our present political leaders to look beyond the short term and the influential lobbyists of big business and the money masters? Is there nowhere else to go, no-one else to help?

Perhaps AI, left unfettered and to its own devices will become one more move in the game of lethal chess we play on our planet. Or is there somewhere the collective voice of the commonweal can be heard above the din?

Well, there are some smaller countries – Switzerland and in Scandinavia – where the people do not grant virtually absolute power and discretion to their MPs and retain powers of recall and referendum. They enjoy innovative government and have constitutions which empower citizens to play the key role in how AI will interact with the process of government.

A constitution is the only effective means of influencing democratic government between elections.

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The provisions of the constitution also prioritise what the citizens consider too important to be left to a succession of elected politicians.

Of course, we have no constitution in the UK but we do have one in the making for Scotland and it is being drafted online by ordinary citizens like us. This is precisely where we should be providing for the titanic impact of AI.

We might consider a second or additional chamber having a clear constitutional remit to advise, assist and inform the primary parliament using AI techniques. The constitution would further endow the chamber with the exclusive authority to use, develop and license AI within the national borders, all in accordance with principles specified in the constitution.

It would consist of trustees elected by general franchise and sponsored by non-party political citizen groups. Their terms of reference would be based on principles set out in the constitution through which they remain accountable to the people at all times.

This is but one example of many alternatives. For readers believe this is not a matter to be left solely to the politicians, there is almost unlimited space to propose, comment and amend virtually unlimited ideas on this matter under Article 4 of the online public consultation Constitution for Scotland.

Here you will find there are already some amendments proposing a Second Chamber and a Citizens Assembly although not as yet relative to AI. If interest should warrant it, the trustees would gladly provide a dedicated section to debate the subject.

The website is more than a consultation because it invites your amendments, comments and transferable votes and transparently and automatically ranks every amendment in order of popularity.

In Scotland we have our share of bright and responsible citizens. Like it or not we are all involved and here is where you can have your say. Use it or lose it! is a registered Scottish charity with the aim of advancing participative democracy. You can read more than 1000 comments across 15 articles and participate in preparing a Scottish Constitution. So why not join in and have your say in how you think an independent Scotland should be governed.

lTo interested groups, the Constitution for Scotland team offers a “guest speaker” introduction, demonstration and Q&A session within your own Zoom meeting. Contact to arrange