More than half of Europeans want to replace lawmakers with AI, study says

People walking at Strandvagen in Stockholm.

LONDON — A study has found that most Europeans would like to see some of their members of parliament replaced by algorithms.

Researchers at IE University’s Center for the Governance of Change asked 2,769 people from 11 countries worldwide how they would feel about reducing the number of national parliamentarians in their country and giving those seats to an AI that would have access to their data.

The results, published Thursday, showed that despite AI’s clear and obvious limitations, 51% of Europeans said they were in favor of such a move.

Oscar Jonsson, academic director at IE University’s Center for the Governance of Change and one of the report’s main researchers, told CNBC that there’s been a “decades long decline of belief in democracy as a form of governance.”

The reasons are likely linked to increased political polarization, filter bubbles and information splintering, he said. “Everyone’s perception is that that politics is getting worse and obviously politicians are being blamed so I think it (the report) captures the general zeitgeist,” Jonsson said. He added that the results aren’t that surprising “given how many people know their MP, how many people have a relationship with their MP (and) how many people know what their MP is doing.”

The study found the idea was particularly popular in Spain, where 66% of people surveyed supported it. Elsewhere, 59% of the respondents in Italy were in favor and 56% of people in Estonia.

Not all countries like the idea of handing over control to machines, which can be hacked or act in ways that humans don’t want them to. In the U.K., 69% of people surveyed were against the idea, while 56% were against it in the Netherlands and 54% in Germany.

Outside Europe, some 75% of people surveyed in China supported the idea of replacing parliamentarians with AI, while 60% of American respondents opposed it.

Opinions also vary dramatically by generation, with younger people found to be significantly more open to the idea. Over 60% of Europeans aged 25-34 and 56% of those aged 34-44 were in support of the idea, whereas a majority of respondents above 55-years-old don’t see it as a good idea.