AI-Powered Election Campaigns Raise Concerns in India Ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha Elections

India's 2024 elections face risks from AI-powered campaigning, as political parties leverage technology to personalize outreach, raising concerns about misinformation and voter manipulation. Civil society groups urge action to protect democratic integrity.

Dil Bar Irshad
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AI-Powered Election Campaigns Raise Concerns in India Ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha Elections

AI-Powered Election Campaigns Raise Concerns in India Ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha Elections

As India gears up for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in political campaigning has emerged as a contentious issue. With over 960 million eligible voters, the upcoming elections will be the largest in the world, and political parties are increasingly turning to AI-powered tools to gain an edge.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been at the forefront of using AI technology to personalize political communications. Videos circulating on WhatsApp show Modi directly addressing voters by name, cutting down on the time and resources traditionally required for campaign outreach. However, this approach has raised concerns about the potential for misinformation and voter manipulation.

India's multi-lingual population and widespread use of WhatsApp create unique challenges and opportunities for AI-powered campaigning. The lack of a comprehensive regulatory framework and the increasing sophistication of AI-generated content make it difficult for voters to distinguish between real and synthetic messages. Potential risks include the spread of misinformation, ethical concerns over voter manipulation, and the erosion of trust in political communication.

Civil society organizations, such as the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), have been working to address these challenges. IFF has drafted a seven-point agenda on technology and human rights, urging political parties and candidates to prioritize digital rights in their manifestos. They have also written to candidates, parties, and parliamentarians, asking them to publicly commit to not using AI-generated synthetic media to influence the elections.

Why this matters: The use of AI in election campaigns has far-reaching implications for the integrity of India's democratic process. As the world's largest democracy prepares for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, it is crucial to address the potential risks associated with AI-powered campaigning and ensure that voters can make informed decisions based on accurate information.

A recent report by Access Now and Global Witness found that YouTube's review process approved 48 advertisements containing election disinformation content, despite violating the platform's policies. This highlights the need for stronger measures to combat the spread of misinformation and protect electoral integrity. As the 2024 Indian elections approach, policymakers, civil society organizations, and tech companies must work together to develop effective strategies for navigating the risks associated with AI-powered campaigning while harnessing its potential benefits.

Key Takeaways

  • India's 2024 elections will be the world's largest, with 960M+ eligible voters.
  • BJP uses AI to personalize political communications, raising concerns about misinformation.
  • India's multi-lingual population and WhatsApp use pose unique AI campaigning challenges.
  • Civil society groups urge political parties to prioritize digital rights and avoid AI-generated content.
  • Policymakers, civil society, and tech firms must address AI-powered campaigning risks and benefits.