Ombudsbot – Machine as Ombudsman

R. (as in robot) Daneel Olivaw – inventor of the Zeroth Law of Robotics

Was reading an excellent article by David Eaves on TechPresident this morning on “What Technology Can and Cannot Do In the Fight Against Corruption?” and I was I was struck by the whole idea – Technology against Corruption!?!

As it happens, I’m currently reading Dan Ariely‘s latest book – The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty and was inspired to post this comment:

What about using behavioral techniques informed by technology to disincent “corruption”?


Because, let’s face it, we are all dishonest – we lie to everyone, especially ourselves. Call it a white lie, rationalization, justification, I worked so hard, I deserve it fication.


We all take moral shortcuts, and when we see other people (wink, wink) do it, we say – “Hey, everybody else is doing it!”


But if we have aggregated data that highlights outliers through some kind of gentle behavioral nudge rather than some “self-righteous”, “self-appointed” person, maybe, the gentle reminder at the time of decision makes the potential bad actor think twice, because if they go ahead with the bad behavior, the system will objectively start highlighting it.


Because yes, I haven’t lost faith in humanity – people are essentially good. We just have to recognize the reality of our flawed human nature.


People say you can’t legislate morality. Perhaps, we can codify (as in source code) it instead?


And having the reminder made by some dispassionate algorithm in silico rather than by a person makes us more receptive to it. Witness why a lot of people prepare their taxes with TurboTax with its “audit alerts”.


Machine as Ombudsman – Ombudsbot.



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