The evolving role of artificial intelligence in worldwide politics
By Saba Omran
In this week's blog, I will be discussing the role of AI in politics. Artificial intelligence seems to be rapidly evolving and with the emergence of AI sites such as chat GPT in 2022, I became curious to see how influential AI is in politics.
Political campaigns have been quick to adopt AI technologies to help them reach voters and win elections. While AI can offer many benefits to political campaigns, it is causing a concern for its impact on democracy, as using it for political campaigns halts democracy. So, what impact does AI have on political discourse and democracy? The issue with artificial intelligence is that it can be used to manipulate individual voters. An example of this was seen in the 2016 us presidential election, as well as the Brexit referendum.
One of the ways in which AI is being used in political campaigns is through using data and algorithms to automate tasks and targeting voters on social media. Campaigns collect data on voters, including their demographics, voting history, and social media activity. AI algorithms can analyse this data to identify patterns and trends that can help campaigns target their messages more effectively. For example, AI can be used to identify voters who are most likely to support a particular candidate or issue, and to develop targeted advertising and messaging that resonates with those voters. Social media has become a key battleground in modern political campaigns, and AI can help campaigns target their messages to the right audience. AI algorithms can analyse social media activity to identify trends and patterns, which are then used to develop targeted advertising that resonates with specific groups of voters. Other ways Artificial intelligence has been used in problematic ways to do with political campaigns is that AI will identify niche audiences and groups and lets campaigners reach more of the right voters, making it cost effective. All of this is making political campaigns less authentic, and it is becoming evident that political campaigns aren't completely democratic.
While AI can offer many benefits to political campaigns, there are massive concerns about its impact on democracy due to AI algorithms being biased, reflecting the biases of the people who develop them. For example, an AI algorithm that is trained on data from a particular demographic group may not be effective at reaching voters from other groups. This could lead to campaigns ignoring certain groups of voters. Another concern is that AI could be used to manipulate and track voters. AI algorithms can analyse vast amounts of data on voters to identify their preferences and beliefs, and to develop targeted messaging that exploits those preferences and beliefs. This leads to campaigns using unethical or even illegal tactics to win elections, such as spreading misinformation or using psychological tricks to influence voters. To add to this, AI has been used for predictive modelling, which help determine probabilities of voters and which specific candidate they back, by using factor such as voting patterns, and demographics. Chatbots, are also used to ensure campaign messaging is more focused and convincing for a voter to vote for a specific candidate.
AI also brings about dangers, and we are constantly told that AI will do good, such as solve global issues such as climate change, enhance our jobs and make them more exciting, however these are all examples of AI hallucinations that we are told to accept these next developing technologies, that no one knows what the effects of may be. I believe this is the real danger of AI, the uncertainty of its capabilities. Relating artificial intelligence to my previous topics, such as the blog on Palestinian resistance, there is an algorithmic violence that surrounds Palestine. This was particularly evident in the 2021 Israeli aggression, where social media platforms blocked and censored hashtags and posts by Palestinians. Most algorithmic technologies are serving Israel, and this is clear when Palestinian media gets censored at times of heightened tensions, where more social media users seem to be sharing news and events. AI can however be used to help Palestinians, when the use of the technology is done by Palestinians themselves and on their terms. Palestinians can use AI for their campaigns and their cause.
It is clear that artificial intelligence is having a significant impact on political campaigns, and this is causing concern, as the use of AI in politics is halting democracy. While AI can help campaigns to target their messages more effectively and monitor social media activity, there are concerns about the potential for bias, manipulation, and inequality. As AI continues to evolve, it will be important for political campaigns and policymakers to carefully consider these issues and it is interesting to see what governments will do to halt the increase in AI in everyday life.