Artificially Yours: Will The Wave Of AI Sweep The Indian Elections?

Artificially Yours: Will The Wave Of AI Sweep The Indian Elections?

Artificial intelligence, that has taken the world by storm is knocking on the doors of the one of the biggest elections of the year.

Juviraj AnchilUpdated: Thursday, March 21, 2024, 03:10 PM IST
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Representative Image | File

After what was seen as crack down on the AI models and their makers, the Central government has committed itself to, what is seen by many as U-Turn. The Indian government has asked system developers to self-regulate their models, in a new directive, that was issued on March 15. This came after the government sought to reign in on the stakeholder, after multiple erroneous result, including a controversial result that was generated on question concerning PM Modi.

The Government's Previous Advisory

Previously, at the beginning of the month on March 1, the government issued an advisory, which said, "All intermediaries or platforms to ensure that use of Artificial Intelligence model(s) /LLM/Generative AI, software(s) or algorithm(s)on or through its computer resource does not permit its users to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share any unlawful content as outlined in the Rule 3(1)(b) of the IT Rules or violate any other provision of the IT Act. (b) All intermediaries or platforms to ensure that their computer resource do not permit any bias or discrimination or threaten the integrity of the electoral process including via the use of Artificial Intelligence model(s)/LLM/Generative AI, software(s) or algorithm(s)".

The aforementioned advisory further said, "The use of under-testing / unreliable Artificial Intelligence model(s) /LLM/Generative AI, software(s) or algorithm(s) and its availability to the users on Indian Internet must be done so with explicit permission of the Government of India and be deployed only after appropriately labeling the possible and inherent fallibility or unreliability of the output generated. Further, ‘consent popup’ mechanism may be used to explicitly inform the users about the possible and inherent fallibility or unreliability of the output generated."

The U-Turn

Post this, there was perceived backlash from the tech industry, especially stakeholders in the AI-rush. Eventually, on March 15, shifting its strategy for regulating generative AI, moving away from its initial requirement for developers to submit at-risk models for government approval. This also includes misinformation incepted through deepfake, where the developers are now expected to 'label' them, if they pose a threat of causing misinformation.

AI and Election 2024

Although, this is seen as a welcome step by many, especially in the industry, one question, that remains to be answered is what does this mean for country, that is starring down a crucial elections, that is just weeks away. Is this the right time, to leave a potent tool like AI, unattended, unregulated. At the same time, given the fairly unique circumstances, that India is in, another question, that poses itself, is whether the AI wave will even have any impact at all on these elections, in the most populous country on the planet.

The fabric on which the happenings of this election season is supposed to roll on, appears, according to many, set and firm, with little room for any change. The 2024 election, which is going to be a long, drawn out process, as though an Indian wedding, will start on 19 April, spanning over seven phases, will finally conclude on June 4. Many domestic and international analysts, however, have called the elections already, with the momentum riding high in the favour of the ruling National Democratic Alliance/NDA led by the all-powerful Bhartiya Janta Party or BJP. In a democracy, much like in a game of football (wherein the game is not over until the last minute), the result is not final until the last vote is counted.

Can AI be Misused After All

However, given the existing circumstances, wherein the ruling alliance is touted to win and win big in the upcoming polls, what relevance does the question of dearth of regulation and by extension, the 'misuse' of the system hold?. The paradigm arguably appears to have sedimented, with not a lot of room for elements to move and change the orientation. Although, it, as they say, is not set in stone, the plaques of victory, for many have already been embellished. This of course is based on suppositions, but when you look at the elements or tools, that could be misused, one has to take into consideration, the level of penetration or potential to penetrate and change the aforementioned orientation. A deepfake video or audio rendition, for example, concerning the Prime Minister or his higher ranking cabinet colleagues and its potential to cause any serious harm or damage to the prospects of the BJP are relatively low, especially when compared to the detrimental prospects of a similar media rendition concerning the opposition Congress and its top leadership, including Wayanad MP, Rahul Gandhi.

The Craft Of Messaging

One of the reasons, why this misuse and its capacity to dent the incumbent is not just the existing socio-political orientation of the country, but the BJP and the PM's own use of the system. Right from 2012-2013, the Modi and the BJP have crafted a system, which then and now, is ahead of the curve.

Chai Pe Charcha campaign

Chai Pe Charcha campaign |

They exploited the world of internet, to their advantage to deliver the message that they wanted to revolve and resonate. Take 'Chai Pe Charcha' in 2014 that stemmed from jibe from multiple jibes from then ruling-Congress and its leaders or the 'Main Bhi Chowkidaar' online movement, if one could call it that, in 2019, after another jibe targeting Modi, boomeranged to cause the Congress harm.

In the latest example of BJP using tech to mold the message is the new campaign, surrounding Modi's family and or lack or it. Almost immediately after Former Bihar CM Lalu Yadav's remark, the party swung into action with the 'Modi Ka Parivar' troupe, which, like the previous instance could get their message across, in the way they wish it to be perceived. In addition to all that, the monumental role of WhatsApp and Facebook and its use by the BJP are elements, that cannot be ignored.

Modi's Hologram campaign

Modi's Hologram campaign |

Under such circumstances, given the precedent and the immense resources at the BJP's disposal, it is salient question to raise, as to whether a loosely bound AI would even have any impact after all.

The tech-savvy party has not just limited it to online campaigns and WhatsApp groups relaying the message, but it has forayed into other avenues of tech, may it be the Holograms used during elections to mechanism developed translate speeches of the Prime Minister, live to incepting an app exclusively delivering information to the party workers and affiliates alike, there is unmissable Orwellian touch to the scheme of things.

Modi Ka Pariwar campaigh

Modi Ka Pariwar campaigh | Abhishek Kumar Tiwari

Where Does Congress Stand?

When we come to Congress, to be fair to the grand-old-party of India, it has made significant strides in the direction of improvement on the 'online game'. From developing a BJP IT cell like system, to establishing a much more robust and prompt mechanism to counter narratives churned out regularly by the BJP, the Congress has tried to re-capture lost ground in the world of binaries.

Senior Congress Leader Jairam Ramesh

Senior Congress Leader Jairam Ramesh |

The online cell, under senior leader Jairam Ramesh, according to many analysts, has been more proactive, than reactive, and most importantly aggressive in its combat online. Nevertheless, it is perhaps not only too late, but also what is being achieved in the bargain, that appears to blemished. What Congress through these development has tried to do, is to 'replicate' the BJP, rather than incept something on its own, failing to create something distinguishable.

Therefore, the question of the viability of AI, and the possibility of its advanced capabilities creating a ripple effect, like it is said, it could do in the West, could be deemed as limited. In the upcoming US or UK elections, these system could have an impact, and the platform of polity in these scenarios is stationed on top, that could tilt the balance either ways. But, when we come to the election in the 'largest democracy', and the reasonable ability of AI to placate a paradigm, what is slowly turning monolithic is something, that remains to be seen, despite being abundantly visible.

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