Gipson Rankin on the Atuahene’s “Stategraft” and the Implications of Unregulated Artificial Intelligence

Sonia Gipson Rankin (University of New Mexico – School of Law) has posted “The MiDAS Touch: Atuahene’s “Stategraft” and the Implications of Unregulated Artificial Intelligence” on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Professor Bernadette Atuahene’s article, Corruption 2.0, develops the new theoretical conception of “stategraft,” which provides a term for a disturbing practice by state agents. Professor Atuahene notes that when state agents have engaged in practices of transferring property from persons to the state in violation of the state’s own laws or basic human rights, it sits at the intersection of illegal behavior that generates public profit. Although these measures can be quantified in many other examples of state corruption, the criminality of state practice goes undetected and is compounded when the state uses artificial intelligence to illegally extract resources from people. This essay will apply stategraft to an algorithm implemented in Michigan that falsely accused unemployment benefit recipients of fraud and illegally took their resources.

The software, the Michigan Integrated Data Automated System (“MiDAS”), was supposed to detect unemployment fraud and automatically charge people with misrepresentation. The agency erroneously charged over 37,000 people, taking their tax refunds and garnishing wages. It would take years for the state to repay the people and it was often after disastrous fallout had happened due to the years of trying to clear their record and reclaim their money.
This essay examines the MiDAS situation using the elements of Atuahene’s stategraft as a basis. It will show how Michigan has violated its own state and basic human rights laws, and how this unfettered use of artificial intelligence can be seen as a corrupt state practice.