AI ChatGPT was released less than a year ago, and we are still discovering how it will impact various aspects of our lives, including our political systems. However, much of the public discourse around AI’s threat to democracy lacks imagination. We often focus on concerns such as fake images, misinformation, and AI-generated opinions, which we are already familiar with due to past experiences. But the future of AI’s impact on politics will be far more interesting and may even bring about positive changes. In this article, we propose six milestones that could revolutionize democratic politics driven by AI, some of which are already within reach.
Firstly, we can anticipate the acceptance by a legislative body or agency of testimony or comments generated by an AI and submitted under its name. While we have already witnessed legislation drafted by AI under human direction, the milestone lies in AI-generated content being recognized as a legitimate perspective in public debate. This milestone is likely to be achieved soon, as we have already seen the New York Times publish a letter under the name of ChatGPT, and legislators are turning to AI to draft high-profile opening remarks at committee hearings.
Secondly, we can expect the adoption of the first novel legislative amendment to a bill written entirely by AI. Microlegislation, which involves making small changes to existing laws or bills, is a natural starting point for AI’s involvement in politics. These changes are often implemented surreptitiously and can be detrimental to society. However, it provides an entry point for AI-generated policies to become law, especially when associated with a specific interest.
The third milestone involves AI-generated political messaging surpassing campaign consultant recommendations in poll testing. Political campaigners and pollsters are already utilizing AI for various tasks, including generating images and simulating poll results. The next step is developing political messaging through AI, where an AI trained on vast amounts of public discourse, campaign rhetoric, and political reporting can anticipate effective messaging strategies.
Looking further into the future, we consider milestone four, where an AI creates a political party with its own platform, attracting human candidates who win elections. While an AI may not be allowed to run for office, it is conceivable that one could establish a political party. The AI could generate a platform designed to attract public interest and formally register as a political party. It could then recruit human candidates to run for office under its banner. Although previous attempts, like the Danish Synthetic Party, have failed to gain parliamentary representation, future AI-led efforts may succeed.
These milestones represent significant outcomes that are plausible and achievable in the foreseeable future. While concerns about AI’s influence on elections may not be easily observable, these milestones provide tangible markers of AI’s impact on politics. As AI continues to evolve, it is essential to explore the potential benefits and challenges it brings to our democratic systems.