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The promise and perils of using artificial intelligence to fight corruption


Corruption presents one of the biggest challenges of our time, and much hope is placed in artificial intelligence (AI) to combat it. Although the growing number of AI-based anti-corruption tools (AI-ACT) have been summarized, a critical examination of their promises and perils is lacking. Here we argue that the success of AI-ACT strongly depends on whether they are implemented top–down (by governments) or bottom–up (by citizens, non-governmental organizations or journalists). Top–down use of AI-ACT can consolidate power structures and thereby pose new corruption risks. Bottom–up use of AI-ACT has the potential to provide unprecedented means for the citizenry to keep their government and bureaucratic officials in check. We outline the societal and technical challenges that need to be overcome to harness the potential for AI to fight corruption.

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Fig. 1: Schematic overview of top–down and bottom–up anti-corruption efforts.


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N.K. provide conceptualization and visualization, wrote the original draft and reviewed and edited the manuscript. C.S. provided conceptualization, wrote the original draft and reviewed and edited the manuscript. I.R. reviewed and edited the manuscript and provided supervision and visualization.

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Correspondence to Nils Köbis.

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Köbis, N., Starke, C. & Rahwan, I. The promise and perils of using artificial intelligence to fight corruption. Nat Mach Intell 4, 418–424 (2022).

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