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AI and Politics event

In a world grappling with the rapidly evolving landscape of artificial intelligence (AI) in politics, The Conduit took on the challenge of trying to make sense of it all. 

2024 is a year where 100’s of millions of voters will exercise their democratic franchise but this probably is not the AI election. The conversation at the event highlighted a spectrum of opinions and insights, presenting a comprehensive dialogue on the implications of AI in the democratic process. 

Here are a few of the key themes discussed:

AI in Politics could be awesome or awful

AI's potential in politics is marked by a stark duality. On one hand, it offers unprecedented opportunities for enhancing democratic engagement and improving governance. On the other hand, there are large, growing and justified concerns over its capacity to disrupt democratic norms through deep fakes, misinformation, and targeted disinformation campaigns. This round of elections may very well be our first, best and last chance to address these issues - so no pressure then.

Inclusivity vs. Exclusivity in the AI Era

A significant theme revolves around the accessibility of AI tools in political campaigning and governance. While AI can democratise information dissemination and potentially level the playing field, there remains a pressing issue regarding the monopolisation of AI technologies by well-resourced entities, potentially sidelining smaller parties and voices. Is AI just another means by which those who already have power and resources re-trench their position?

Ethical AI Use and Regulation

The dialogue emphasised the necessity for establishing ethical guidelines and regulatory frameworks for AI use in politics. There simply wasn’t time to discuss how regulation was being created in the UK, and whether the sector specific approach would work for electoral processes. notably, the conversation called for pledges from political entities to refrain from using AI to produce misleading content, alongside advocating for responsible AI conduct moving forward. There was also serious concern raised about the volume and extent of outside influence from bad actors in skewing democratic processes.

Empowerment through AI

Another key point discussed was the empowerment AI could bring to underrepresented groups, if leveraged responsibly. This includes the potential for AI to enhance female representation in politics by counteracting online threats and misinformation, which disproportionately target women. There wasn’t enough time to discuss how techniques used by the Premier League in finding online trolls could be used, and the implication that many of the negative comments originate at scale outside of the UK. 

Good democracy needs informed voters

A consensus on the need for enhancing public education and awareness about AI emerged. Understanding AI's capabilities, limitations, and implications is crucial for the electorate to navigate the digital political landscape critically and discerningly. This could be summed up as “Democracy is only as good as the education that surrounds it", which really underlines that while we are facing new problems the solution is tried and tested. It is also 2,500 years old if we’re to believe that quote is attributable to Socrates.

The Future Trajectory of AI in Politics

The discussion acknowledged the inevitable integration of AI in political processes, urging a proactive approach in shaping its impact. Optimism for AI's positive contributions coexists with caution, urging preparedness against its potential misuses.

The conversation at The Conduit underscored the complexity and urgency of addressing AI's role in politics. As we stand at the cusp of a new era in political engagement and governance, the dual challenges of harnessing AI's potential for public good while safeguarding democratic values and processes have never been more critical. The path forward demands a collaborative, multidisciplinary effort to ensure AI serves to enrich democracy rather than undermine it.


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