Sir, As someone from the old school, I don’t even have a smartphone. Yet I found your review on the coming world of “virtual assistants” (“ Digital designs for life”, The Big Read, February 23) especially engaging and thought-provoking. The idea of having a personal AI assistant able to take care of and arrange for my every need without input from me seems astonishing but obviously on the way. No doubt, millions who grow up on the internet, search, apps, mobile and social media will take advantage of this coming technology in many ways.

Where I really got excited is in thinking about its use for voting in those countries that pick their political leaders by democratic means. Just think about it: your AI assistant knows all your likes and dislikes, your views on important issues and your personal character, situation and motivations. Your assistant will uncover everything, in spades, about the candidates. The search will determine which candidates best meet your needs. You’ll be freed from worrying about whether you have been unduly influenced by TV commercials that show all candidates in a bad light by taking words out of context and trumpeting a pile of fractional truths. In the best of worlds, you’ll be able to register your AI assistant who will then be deputised to cast your vote, freeing you up from having to take the time to vote yourself.

In the end, while “AI voting” may not alleviate Plato’s concern about mob rule, it does represent the best way for every voter to cast a vote in a meaningful way independent of outside influences. The principle of “one person, one vote” would have more meaning than now in those countries where the dominant form of influencing elections is money sloshing around.

Arnold Holtzman

Wilmington, DE, US

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