What Can We Learn About the Future of AI in Politics, from Past and Present Campaigns.
Political campaigns are continually trying to find an advantage over the competition. In this digital age, we are finding more campaigns applying AI to get the votes they need to win. In American politics, it was usually the campaign that could raise the most funds and have a good ground game that would succeed. AI has dramatically changed the landscape, allowing campaigns to get exceptional results on a fraction of the budget. Social Media, has also dramatically altered the landscape allowing campaigns to deliver targeted ads featuring micro-targeted messages to voters.
The Beginnings of AI in Politics
The rise of AI came about during the . While the other campaign featured traditional methods of getting out the votes, Obama’s Team was able to use artificial intelligence to help him find what messages were working with specific groups of people. They were then able to create a massive wave of people excited to go and vote for him. This delivered him the presidency with ease.
An example of how AI helped Obama was during the 2012 campaign. His team was able to figure out that Women aged 40-49 spent the most money on donations. Then they identified that George Clooney was most likely to influence these women. Being that Clooney was on the west coast at the time, he wanted someone with the Influence of Clooney on the east coast. He was able to find that Sarah Jessica Parker was in the same position as Clooney. This was thanks to using Artificial Intelligence to analyze social media profiles and discover which celebrity was driving engagement from these women.
As you all remember, this led to resounding victory for Obama and reelection during the campaign. The same thing happened during the 2016 election. We’ll go over how exactly AI changed the political game forever in 2016.
AI and Micro-Targeting
There have always been political tools and methodologies to figure out what messages work the best for specific demographics. In the digital age, it has gotten much easier for campaigns to create ultra-targeted ads for various groups of people. In today’s world, we can analyze what people are saying on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. By analyzing the profiles of various groups and individuals, we can figure out what a politician needs to say to get these votes. Artificial intelligence helps with this because you can apply a variety of algorithms to help understand the target audience.
is potent because a few percentage points usually win elections. Generally, you can win by having a message that resonates with only a small selection of voters in specific regions. This is especially true for American politics where there are essentially 50 state elections in a winner take all system.
As more systems become more digitized, artificial intelligence will play an even bigger role in helping to understand voters and create actionable insights for political campaigns.
Politicians now know exactly what words and phrases to use to which people at which times using AI. Artificial Intelligence is also changing the way campaign funds are raised.
Campaigns are able to use the same predictive algorithms employed by Supermarkets, E-commerce platforms, and many other companies to figure out which people are most likely to donate. After figuring out who is most likely to donate, you can easily create a unique message targeted towards their desires, views and beliefs. This dramatically increases the chances that they will donate.
AI and Influencing Foreign Politics
With great power, comes great responsibility is the common phrase uttered when a new technology comes around and changes the game. There have been many causes for concern when it comes to Artificial Intelligence combined with social media and data in politics.
The bar for gathering information about people has been dramatically lowered and now almost anyone can use this data with AI to influence voters. This means that even hostile foreign groups are able to meddle with elections with little consequence. Because of this, there are many ethical concerns when it comes to AI and politics.
The Ethics of AI in Politics
The digital age has made life a lot easier for everyone. Artificial Intelligence is doing the same but there are many ethical and privacy concerns for people. With these recent changes people have begun to ask if your private information is really yours. Alternatively, does it belong to the company who hosts it?
Many recent political campaigns have used information from Facebook and it has brought up many privacy concerns for people. As time goes on, people are finding out that companies seem to know everything about them. Companies are constantly using AI algorithms to analyze their social media posts and learn what will persuade and influence them. This erosion of privacy is becoming frightening to some and this could become a bigger problem in the future. The power of AI combined with social media posts and profile information can be used to influence and persuade with impunity.
The Future of AI in Politics
So where does all of this go? The truth is no one knows. The only thing we can be sure of is the genie isn’t ever going back into the bottle. Artificial Intelligence being applied to political campaigns is here to stay and it is the future. The winners of tomorrow will be those who are able to harness the power of AI to be able to gather information about potential voters and use algorithms to figure out what will influence them.
Victoria Liset is strategic business & technology consultant to SMEs. She helps businesses improve their performance by using data more efficiently, and helping them to understand the implications of new technologies such as AI, Machine Learning, Big data, blockchain and IoT.