AI in politics

AI in the political arena

This article was written and published by Miles R. Maftean from PartyParty.

AI in politics? It’s more than just trendy tech talk. It’s a real game-changer and it’s happening now. Whether you’re deciphering EU legislative changes or devising compelling campaigns, AI can help meet your daily political challenges. That is, only if you’re using the right tools.

During a candid chat with Clemens Schuster, CEO of SAVOIRR, we discussed how AI is sculpting the future of political work by looking at the behind-the-scenes into how political pros are leveraging this AI tool for their day-to-day political manoeuvres. Schuster wants this platform to be a cornerstone for modern political engagement and strategy, but this won’t come easy—blending AI with the intricate world of politics is challenging, to say the least.

Both localisation of AI tools and the human-centred element of utilising these tools are significant hurdles to how successful it will be for political professionals. Let’s deep dive and see what this fusion of AI and politics really entails.

The genesis of SAVOIRR: Schuster’s pioneering vision

Schuster’s vision for SAVOIRR was to revolutionise political strategy with technology, using reliable open government data to enhance decision-making. A standout feature is its competition tracking, updating stakeholder maps quickly for strategic advantage in the dynamic political field.

SAVOIRR also offers real-time alerts, allowing users to act promptly on political and legislative developments. For instance, a legislative researcher in a climate foundation can easily track and analyse relevant EU or national legislation changes through SAVOIRR, streamlining their workflow significantly.

Localisation: the Achilles heel to AI in politics

If using such an AI tool is that simple, why aren’t all political professionals doing so? Well, the fact remains that the localisation of such tools limits its applicability. Schuster mentioned this in relation to SAVOIRR—while it can adapt to various political systems, implementing it in a new country can take anywhere from 6-12 months.

Adapting to each country’s unique political system is a Herculean task—languages, laws, and political nuances differ widely, and if a tech product has a one-size-fits-all approach, then it will often fall short. You’ll often need the right people on the ground who can translate the intricacies of these different political systems into the proper data points that will serve as inputs for that AI tool.

Not to mention, getting politicians and companies on board with using such tools is another uphill battle. The onboarding process can be daunting, with users often finding themselves lost in a sea of features and data. It’s not just about having access to AI-driven insights – it’s about understanding how to use them effectively.

Moreover, persuading politicians and companies to use these tools involves overcoming onboarding complexities and teaching effective utilisation of AI insights.

Schuster emphasised the human aspect behind its AI technology during our conversation, telling me that while AI is transformative, the real power lies in human interpretation and application of the data.

Clemens Schuster, Co-Founder and CEO

The human element: AI’s make or break factor

Perhaps the most critical oversight in the AI-politics fusion is underestimating the human element. AI, as seen with SAVOIRR, can churn out data and insights aplenty, but without keen human interpretation, these insights might as well be a pile of unread books. Schuster’s platform stands at this crucial juncture – a place where AI and human insight must coalesce effectively, or risk falling short.

Let’s say there is an AI system deployed in a political campaign to analyse public sentiment through social media. AI could identify the trending topics and general sentiment, but it won’t be able to understand the nuanced context behind certain regional slangs or localised expressions. This could lead to a campaign misinterpreting a key demographic’s concerns, resulting in a strategy that misses the mark and alienates potential supporters. Human intuition and understanding is irreplaceable here, and makes such AI tools not useful but even damaging.

AI can process vast amounts of data, but it often lacks the ability to grasp the unpredictable and dynamic nature of human behaviour that is so central to politics.

AI’s success stories

Still, there are times when AI can be used in the right way. Schuster shared a compelling success story from Switzerland, where SAVOIRR enabled a major energy company to leverage early information on solar panel regulations, significantly impacting their business strategy and legislative involvement.

The use—and success of—AI in politics will only increase. Recent reports from US campaigns, from local mayoral races to the highly anticipated 2024 presidential election, AI use in crafting election ads and outreach emails is increasingly prevalent. The Democratic National Committee, for instance, has tested AI-generated content and discovered it matches or even surpasses human-written material in terms of engagement and fundraising results.

A new chapter in political analysis

Schuster’s future vision for SAVOIRR seeks to redefine public policy engagement, informed by its experiences. The progress of AI, particularly in nuanced fields like politics, will rest on its capacity to augment, not supplant, human judgement and expertise.

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