By María José Castro Martínez – International Relations student
This era has been marked by technology. Most of the work that people used to do is now done by artificial technology, which is “the ability of a computer or a robot controlled by a computer to do tasks that are usually done by humans because they require human intelligence and discernment” (Copeland, 2020). In countries like Japan, a leader in these matters, this technology has already been implemented in services, for example customer service, that is provided by robots. Similarly in many mass production factories, work that for decades was done by human beings, today is done by a machine (Robotics Lab, 2020). Now, what about the rest of the jobs? Eventually, are they going to be replaced by technology as well?
Focusing on consular affairs, a consul does represent the country of origin in another one. Within their duties, it can be mentioned procedures for issuing visas, passports, licenses, identity cards, among others. In other words, a consult does the job of many national institutions but abroad. Every day, these diplomats meet a lot of people with specific cases and necessities, that means different solutions.
In times of COVID-19, this has had to adapt to the situation. All the consular offices have had to attend thousands of nationals who were abroad when this health emergency began. A situation that deserved many delicate processes and procedures that only a person could attend to with the necessary empathy and humanity, something that a machine could never achieve. However, many people then could ask: “What about work from home?” It is important to understand that “work from home” is a working modality, but the work is still done by people.
Although, there are already cases in which countries try to involve artificial intelligence in their diplomacy. For example China, which in 2018 generated a prototype that would serve to support strategic decisions and international policy based on data. By this year, the device was giving "good signals" despite the fact that by then it was incapable of making strategic decisions. However, it is important to note that after all this technological advance, Fu Jingying -researcher at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences- never stopped emphasizing the fact that "the machine will never replace human diplomats. It will only provide assistance”. (Gallego, 2018). As mentioned by Kostopoulos —a private consultant and expert in technology and cyber security— artificial intelligence is already part of everyday life, from the little assistant in the cell phones who gives important reminders of the calendar and so on, to more complex things like the case of China already mentioned (U.S. Mission Spain, 2019). The truth is that all this is a creation of the human being, and it is this one who will define where to have technology and where not to increase it.
Technology is reality, it was created, it will improve, and we will have to adapt to it. Many jobs have been already replaced by it, but it would be illogic to think that it will take the place of a person in humanistic matters. In general terms, is important to understand that a human being have two qualities or virtues that no machine could replace, those are judgement and conscience. With this clarification been said, it can be understood that the purpose or objective of the artificial technology is to be a support to humans, not a competitor. Yes, technology can streamline some of the processes that most of the time a consul does, but the final job is going to be done by a consul.
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Copeland, B. J. (2020, August 11). Artificial intelligence. Examples, and Applications. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/technology/artificial-intelligence
Gallego, M. (2018, August 1). La Inteligencia Artificial llega a la diplomacia en China. Big Data Magazine. https://bigdatamagazine.es/la-inteligencia-artificial-llega-a-la-diplomacia-en-china
Robotics Lab. (2020, February 10). Cómo Japón usa la inteligencia artificial y la robótica para resolver problemas sociales y lograr el crecimiento económico. https://roboticslab.pe/como-japon-usa-la-inteligencia-artificial-y-la-robotica-para-resolver-problemas-sociales-y-lograr-el-crecimiento-economico/
S. Mission Spain. (2019, April 12). Private consultant Lydia Kostopoulos talks about artificial intelligence and cyber security. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyYF3_nNR7Y&feature=emb_title