If Westeros Can Embrace AI Then so Should We

By Holly Brockwell on at

At the end of Game of Thrones, the Westerosi elite chose to put Bran Stark on the throne (or more accurately, to turn his wheelchair into a throne, since the actual throne is gone and he's already sorted for seating).

Admittedly, it was a disappointing moment. Bran has none of the charisma or likeability of the other major characters, and no one will be cheering to see him crowned on or off screen.

But that's exactly why he's the right person to rule – and perhaps even an example to those of us in the real world, as we try to navigate through a bin fire not unlike the smoking remains of King's Landing.

Why Bran? Because he's not really a person anymore. He doesn't have personal motives or ego issues to get in the way of his decisions. He has no agenda, no lust for power, no enemies – he's a figurehead with the memory of the past and the ability to compute the future. He's a database and an algorithm.

Bran is AI.

The character has been much-mocked for his robotic, barely-there demeanour in the last couple of series, but that's because as he turned into the Three-Eyed Raven, he moved past being human. His mind melded with history, with the world – he essentially became part of the cloud. This is something the transhumanist movement has been trying to achieve for decades.

With his ability to look at what's happened before and what potential outcomes there could be, Bran is the only person in Westeros that can make objective decisions. He can see what works and what doesn't, not on the basis of rhetoric and feeling but pure results. He can think ten moves ahead, which might be why the character sometimes seems to say and do odd things – he knows where to put his counters to win the game, even if it doesn't seem like it at the time.

In fact, Bran represents an even more democratic choice than the actual democracy Samwell Tarly wanted. Everyone voting for their leader is a nice idea, but as we've seen, in practice it can cause chaos. What if we'd known beforehand what the impact of Brexit would be? What if we hadn't had to rely on two heavily-invested sides making impassioned arguments, but could just look at the facts? What if our leader could weigh up all outcomes and automatically choose the one that's best for everyone?

Obviously, we can't follow someone like Bran in the real world. For starters, he has zero magnetism, so he'd never win an election – can you imagine his campaign speeches? "Huh? Wha? Oh, sorry, I was in a bird."

And besides, that kind of objectivity would be very difficult to find in an actual human – anyone who's watched Line of Duty can tell you the people making the rules are often the ones breaking them most egregiously.

So how can we follow the example of Westeros? By electing an AI.

This is something that's been discussed both seriously and not-so-seriously in the real world. Artist Fokawolf's Democrobot campaign made some convincing arguments in the midst of our milkshake-slinging political hellscape:

Image: Fokawolf

And a recent survey found that a third of us are already on board with voting in an AI over the flesh-and-blood turdburgers currently in power.

It's not a perfect solution, of course: AIs are made by people, and people have all those biases and agendas we're trying to get rid of. But a representative collective of people – I said representative, Silicon Valley – has a far better shot of making something neutral than any one person or party.

Let's skip all the bloody warfare, then, and go straight to the best decision:

All hail Artificial Intelligence, first of its name, the unbiased, mother of lodes and breaker of tables.

There, saved you 8 seasons.