Technology is rapidly changing every aspect of our lives and businesses are working hard to capitalise on this. Many companies are having to face the stark choice of “disrupt, innovate or die” and technological advancement is invariably having a similar impact on our politics.
Already we have seen technology change the face of politics; today you can live stream any debate happening in the House of Commons or the House of Lords and Momentum deployed the use of technology to direct and bring together campaign teams through their “Nearest Marginal” app. This app helped to counter one of the biggest weaknesses in any campaign, simple lack of manpower, by ensuring their resources were pooled. Already we have seen all the major parties take advantage of social media and paid promotion in order to reach millions of people without needing thousands of activists on the ground.
This lack of manpower is a problem for every political party, from the Tories all the way down to local Resident Association but soon someone is going to disrupt political campaigning forever by changing how campaigns are fought.
The emergence of Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence means that human decision making will soon have a very little impact on what political content we receive. Already the major political parties use tools such as Experian’s Mosaic to accurately predict what issues you will care about and what will likely affect your vote, but as it stands the interpretation of this data and the follow up of the interpretation is largely left down to human decision making.
This technology is just waiting for a disruptor to take full advantage and when they do, they will do so by creating an AI that will not only read that data but will also design and then subsequently distribute political material catered to exactly what you care about, no longer will a party need a campaigns team in every constituency when they can just run the data through this technology and have material automatically sent to them; this would also save money on printing costs as the AI could also determine who to send printed material to and who to target via social media.
Technology will not only affect our political campaigning though, it will also affect how democracy works in the UK. A recent social experiment saw the use of Swarm to help groups reach collective decisions efficiently and effectively. The premise of Swarm Intelligence is based on why bees swarm and birds flock because the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. Swarm AI uses this premise to allow humans to use their collective intelligence to reach accurate decisions quickly.
Swarm AI could easily become adapted into referenda or even voting in general and AI as a whole will mean we only see what we care about.
Technology is evolving and politics at the moment is still lagging behind, but soon, very soon, there will be a huge breakthrough in political technology that will change the face of politics forever, all we need is the right pioneer to take the first step.