Can Open Data and Artificial Intelligence Improve Democracy?

Artifical Intelligence technology is becoming commonplace in political campaigns, and some even claim it was crucial in delivering election victories to Donald Trump in the US, Macron in France and the Brexit referendum in the UK. Throughout modern history, political candidates have had only a limited number of tools and data to gauge the public opinion of their electorate. More often than not, they’ve had to rely on instinct rather than insight when running for office.

To top this, politicians and parties have to deal with fundraising and compliance rules that are governed by electoral acts. Electoral Commissions have the responsibility to ensure that the law was not broken in any way – that’s where open data and smart algorithms come into plan. The technologies are used by both sides – parties and politicians on one, and electoral commissions on the other – to maximize the effectiveness of a campaign and to ensure all fundraising activities are fully compliant with the law.

In terms of transparency, Open Declare is already helping Australia and the world. But we asked ourselves: what if we could employ machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect any unusual patterns or behaviour and link those to various policies and outcomes? And then, what if our algorithms could inform the Electoral Commission about those as early as possible… What difference would that make?

Well, we have been experimenting and working hard on these ideas. We’ve employed some of the most talented software developers and data analysts. While results are still not in the public domain, we are very excited about what we are seeing so far! Artificial intelligence technology, especially machine learning, will grant Open Declare the ability to learn from the existing data, uncover hidden patterns, detect abnormal behaviour and even predict future outcomes. It will keep evolving itself as more decisions are being made, which will feed the data back into the system. The Electoral Commission will be alerted to any abnormal behaviours which will become valuable for any future investigations or actions that may need to take place. Not only will this benefit Electoral Commissions, but the media would be able to use the insights to create a statistical analysis for their future content. Most importantly, this is all done within seconds, rather than spending hundreds of hours combing through records individually.

More to be uncovered in the coming months! Watch this space.

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