Author: Russell Berman
Depending on whom you ask in politics, the sudden advances in artificial intelligence will either transform American democracy for the better or bring about its ruin. At the moment, the doomsayers are louder. Voice-impersonation technology and deep-fake videos are scaring campaign strategists, who fear that their deployment in the days before the 2024 election could decide the winner. Even some AI developers are worried about what they’ve unleashed: Last week the CEO of the company behind ChatGPT practically begged Congress to regulate his industry. (Whether that was genuine civic-mindedness or self-serving performance remains to be seen.)
Amid the growing panic, however, a new generation of tech entrepreneurs is selling a more optimistic future for the merger of AI and politics. In their telling, the awesome automating power of AI has the potential to achieve in a few years what decades of attempted campaign-finance reform have failed to do—dramatically reduce the cost of running for election in the United States. With AI’s ability to handle a campaign’s most mundane and time-consuming tasks—think churning out press releases or identifying and targeting supporters—candidates would have less need to hire high-priced consultants. The result could be a more open and accessible democracy, in which small, bare-bones campaigns can compete with well-funded juggernauts.