Analysis & Opinions - MIT Technology Review

How AI Could Write Our Laws

| Mar. 14, 2023

ChatGPT and other AIs could supercharge the influence of lobbyists—but only if we let them

Nearly 90% of the multibillion-dollar federal lobbying apparatus in the United States serves corporate interests. In some cases, the objective of that money is obvious. Google pours millions into lobbying on bills related to antitrust regulation. Big energy companies expect action whenever there is a move to end drilling leases for federal lands, in exchange for the tens of millions they contribute to congressional reelection campaigns.

But lobbying strategies are not always so blunt, and the interests involved are not always so obvious. Consider, for example, a 2013 Massachusetts bill that tried to restrict the commercial use of data collected from K-12 students using services accessed via the internet. The bill appealed to many privacy-conscious education advocates, and appropriately so. But behind the justification of protecting students lay a market-altering policy: the bill was introduced at the behest of Microsoft lobbyists, in an effort to exclude Google Docs from classrooms.

What would happen if such legal-but-sneaky strategies for tilting the rules in favor of one group over another become more widespread and effective? We can see hints of an answer in the remarkable pace at which artificial-intelligence tools for everything from writing to graphic design are being developed and improved. And the unavoidable conclusion is that AI will make lobbying more guileful, and perhaps more successful. 

It turns out there is a natural opening for this technology: microlegislation.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Sanders, Nathan and Bruce Schneier.“How AI Could Write Our Laws.” MIT Technology Review, March 14, 2023.

The Authors

Nathan Sanders