Is the WEF calling for AI to replace elections?

By August 17, 2023 Government, Technology

While Singaporeans are expecting upcoming elections, we came across a rather peculiar post on X that states that the World Economic Forum (WEF) wants a future without elections.

Some posts also contended that the WEF’s founder, Klaus Schwab, stated that future technology would eliminate the need for elections.

Will AI eliminate the need for elections?

The posts on X refer to a video from 2017, almost 7 years ago, where Schwab spoke to Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin during WEF’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Speaking about AI and the changes in technology, Schwab shared that one fear surrounding digital technologies is its advancement from “analytical powers” towards “predictive powers”. For example, Google Brain – Google’s research team which focuses on machine learning – was already training computers in 2017 to predict when people might fall sick, based on their medical data.

In the short extracts of the video clip shared on X, Schwab states that the potential next step for technology “could be to go into prescriptive mode, which means you do not even have to have elections anymore because you can already predict … and afterwards, you can say, ‘Why do we need the elections?’ Because we know what the result will be. Can you imagine such a world?”.

It is clear from the full video and even the short extracts shared online that Schwab was merely asking Brin a hypothetical question – whether it might be possible for a future where elections are unnecessary as the results could be predicted.

Additionally, in his response, Brin stated that Schwab might further ask why we need elected leaders at all if decisions are made for us and added that they are “venturing into profound questions”.

Before his question on elections, Schwab had also asked if Brin could imagine, 10 years down the road, people having implants in their brains that measures brainwaves and concludes how people react to each other.

Therefore, based on Schwab’s queries and Brin’s answers in the entirety of the video, it is quite plain that they were merely speaking about hypothetical scenarios and not calling for AI to replace elections.


WEF’s position

The WEF has often been targeted by conspiracy theorists who spread false information about the content that it puts out. In a statement to The Associated Press, WEF clarified that “The World Economic Forum is in no way calling for AI to replace democratic elections,” and “[t]hese are false claims to discredit the work that the World Economic Forum does on serious global challenges”.

Hence, it is inaccurate to assert that Klaus Schwab stated that future technology will eliminate the need for elections. It is also untrue that the WEF is calling for AI to replace elections.

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