Monday, August 24, 2020

Moscow Wants to Use Artificial Intelligence to Allow Officials to Avoid Having to Respond to Citizens’ Complaints

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 19 – The Russian government is preparing to introduce a system whereby complaints by citizens will not be answered by the officials to which they are addressed but rather by an artificial intelligence algorithm, thus eliminating one of the few remaining ways ordinary citizens have to seek redress from those who rule over them.

            Under existing laws and procedures, officials are required to respond to the complaints of citizens, even if the responses are often simply to dismiss what Russian citizens have declared. But apparently, from the point of view of the Russian government, that places too great a burden on the bureaucrats.

            Consequently, the authorities are preparing a single portal where citizens will send their complaints and receive answers based on an algorithm in an artificial intelligence system rather than at least hearing from the officials the citizens had wanted to address their complaints in the first place.

            The government says this arrangement will guarantee “a new quality of work in the consideration of the appeals of citizens through the use of contemporary digital technologies.”  That may be true; but from the point of view of citizens, this “new quality” may not be better (

            Officials will certainly be spared a great deal of time, but the algorithm of artificial intelligence to be introduced is likely to mean, experts say, that many complaints of Russian citizens will not be considered at all. They will simply fall into a digital memory hole (

            This change has not been passed into law; but because it is backed by the government, it almost certainly will be.  And as a result, Russians will lose one of the few means they have to influence those who rule over them, a development that will do nothing to limit the growth of anger and alienation in the population.

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