Democrats Plan to Agree on AI Usage Guidelines Goes Nowhere

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Campaigns across the country started to experiment with artificial intelligence technology as the calendar turned to 2024, and the Democratic National Committee took notice.

The way it responded to the usage of AI was to approach some prominent campaign committees to request that they all sign onto guidelines that would ultimately commit them to using AI in a way that’s “responsible.”

Unfortunately for the DNC, they weren’t very successful in getting it done.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the draft agreement that the DNC drew up, and it wasn’t all that revolutionary at all. In fact, it just asked campaign committees to protect against biases, avoid using the technology to create content that’s misleading and check work that’s done by AI tools.

All in all, the guidelines weren’t that out of line with what many organizations and businesses are doing on their own already. Yet, it didn’t work.

As the draft document reads:

“Our goal is to use this new technology both effectively and ethically, and in a way that advances — rather than undermines — the values that we espouse in our campaigns.”

Rather than bringing campaigns together for what the DNC thought was a reasonable ask, the guidelines ended up sparking debate over whether pledges such as these hold any real value, especially if they revolve around technology that’s evolving so quickly.

Many Democratic campaigns were concerned that the pledge could hamstring them when they try to deploy AI tools and could ultimately turn off donors who have ties to the AI industry.

Some campaign officials weren’t too happy that the DNC only gave them a few days to sign onto the guidelines, too.

While there’s been a lot of attention given to the apparent division within the Republican Party, this gaffe shows that there’s similar division among Democrats, too — at least in terms of how campaign tactics are carried out.

Despite this failure, Hannah Muldavin, who’s a senior spokesperson for the DNC, said they wouldn’t be giving up on the effort. As she said:

“[The DNC] will continue to engage with our sister committees to discuss ideas and issues important to Democratic campaigns and to American voters, including AI.

“It’s not uncommon for ideas and plans to shift, especially in the midst of a busy election year, and any documents on this subject reflect early and ongoing conversations. … [The] DNC and our partners take seriously the opportunities and challenges presented by AI.”

Political campaigns on both sides of the aisle are using AI technology increasingly to optimize their workloads. Some examples include using language models to write emails for fundraising efforts, as well as building chatbots to answer questions from voters.

It’s expected that the usage of AI is only going to increase as the November election draws nearer, and the push to get candidates into office gets more dire.

Many experts believe campaigns will use AI tools to create images and text, and to clone human voices as part of content they produce.