What is it about?

We argue that modern, cutting-edge versions of artificial intelligence present a new, unique challenge for public managers because these systems can make decisions that are not predetermined by a human engineer. In that way, they can exert "discretion" in the same way as human administrators in any large organization. We then offer a structured way to approach matching different uses of this technology to various types of tasks. We conclude with adapting the five criterion for evaluating public policies first proposed by Salamon (2002) to provide a framework for public managers and the public to use when considering whether to use artificial intelligence systems as part of their governance approach.

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Why is it important?

The use of artificial intelligence in both the private and public sectors is increasing rapidly, often with little reflection or consideration of its shortcomings as well as its strengths as they relate to the task at hand. We hope to provide both public sector decision-makers and the public at large with a framework and understanding to approach the question of whether or not to adopt these technologies that will make its use more likely to improve the public good, and less likely to cause unintended harm.

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This page is a summary of: Artificial Discretion as a Tool of Governance: A Framework for Understanding the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Public Administration, Perspectives on Public Management and Governance, October 2019, Oxford University Press (OUP),
DOI: 10.1093/ppmgov/gvz014.
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