By Joseline Montes Zuñiga - Student of International Relations
Nowadays, we have been influenced by a century characterized by constant changes and adaptations, one of the greatest technological advances that we have today, without a doubt, is Artificial Intelligence. In the international community there is uncertainty about the role that artificial intelligence could have with respect to consular functions, since Artificial Intelligence technologies have created a lot of controversy due to the idea that in the future there could be the possibility that machines will eventually displace the functions of human beings in many work-related areas.
AI has advantages as well as disadvantages, however, it is essential to understand what we mean when we talk about it. “AI refers to the activity by which computers process large volumes of data using highly sophisticated algorithms to simulate human reasoning and behavior” (Bjola, 2020, p. 6). It’s a technological tool that could be used to streamline administrative processes, with COVID-19 we have witnessed how many of the consular functions had to be stopped for reasons of force majeure, it’s in situations such as these, where tools such as AI can be complemented with human skills.
In order to provide a better service and be more efficient in the functions that must be provided in the different embassies all around the world, AI can help to improve the consular functions such as “answering questions, filling out and searching documents, routing requests, translation, and drafting documents.” (Mehr, 2017, p. 3). Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that implementing AI technologies could obsolete all the consular functions, it’s just a tool that diplomats could use to be more efficient in their functions while they focus other kind of tasks.
Certainly “consular services could be thus seen as a low-hanging fruit for AI integration as decisions are amenable to digitisation, the analytical contribution is reasonable relevant and the embodied knowledge favours collaboration between users and the machine.” (Bjola, 2020, p. 10). There is no way to deny that AI is useful, as a matter of fact it’s something that already exist and its even used in some embassies to help with “chat-bots now assist with visa applications, legal aid for refugees, and consular registrations” (Bjola, 2020, p. 10).
For all these reasons, Artificial intelligence is undoubtedly an area of opportunity that should be exploited in the diplomatic field. As diplomats it is essential to adapt ourselves to the new era of technological changes, it opens new areas of incursion, in which the time gained could be used to create projects, new projects and alliances to benefit the common good of the citizens and the relations between the receiving and the sending state. The future looks bright if it is implemented well because it means that there should be a process of reorganization and adaption in the way in which consular functions are being handled. Even though some consular functions will become obsolete, at the end AI is just a diplomatic tool to make the consular functions easier.
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Bjola, C. (2020). Diplomacy in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. EDA Working Paper, 1-52.
Mehr, H. (2017). Artificial Intelligence for Citizen Services. Harvard Ash Center Technology & Democracy Fellow, 1-19.