Exploring Artificial Intelligence in the Age of Populism

Author: European Institute for Diplomacy & Policy, the Netherlands

Technological development and progress , without a doubt has ultimately changed and revolutionized almost every aspect of humans’ lives around the world: from the way they work, they communicate with each other, they buy products or services and the way they travel.

Over the last years, the term of “Artificial Intelligence”- the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings, also known as A.I, has become dominant both at international and European level.  The term is also Frequently applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from past experience.

However, A.I goes far beyond this meaning, since it affects to a great extent the world of politics and the decision-making process, too. So, the questions which arise are: “What is the secret connection between A.I and populism nowadays? Can A.I be used as a tool for populist movements?”

Primarily, populist movements choose deliberately simplified narratives and emotional appeals to gain acceptance and recognition from the public opinion. Nowadays, disinformation, fake news, and manipulation of the people is a common practice and unfortunately, A.I is directly linked with that. More precisely, some algorithms on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram) can improve populists’ narrative and thus, contribute to the spread of specific ideas and values.

Moreover, A.I tends to replace certain job positions with robots, machines and automatic systems in general resulting to the fact that many people are losing their jobs; feeling financially unstable and insecure about the future. In many European countries populist movements have appeared as a promising response to those social complaints, while putting at the top of their political discourse the protection of the working class and of employee’s rights.

The advantages of A.I technology are not equally distributed to the society, as a whole and many people still don’t have access to technological tools. It is really common for populists to criticize the concentration of A.I power in the hands of a few people (elite) and therefore, struggling for more social equality and inclusion.

Another interesting dimension is the lack of transparency and accountability in A.I technology, since many messages are quite controversial, especially when it comes to political content. Consequently, populist parties are inclined to raise strong objections to the non-transparent character of A.I systems, in a way to avoid the so-called “democratic deficit”.

However, apart from the concerns mentioned above, should always be kept in mind that A.I can have a really positive impact in the labor market, in tackling social inequalities, improve the decision – making process and essentially facilitate the daily life of millions of people.  The relationship between A.I and populism is multidimensional and is addressing many different political, economic and social aspects, whereas populists use sometimes A.I as a tool to make up the lost time.

One of the greatest challenges nowadays is that reality is blending with artificial reality and it gets harder and harder to distinguish them. People and communities should always stay prudent when it comes to choose and make an important decision. It is of paramount importance to strike the balance between A.I and populism, through critical thinking, democratic dialogue, cooperation and participation.


Exploring Artificial Intelligence in the Age of Populism
Scroll to top