Lok Sabha polls: How GenAI is rewriting political campaigning strategies | Tech News

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Generative artificial intelligence is making a serious impact on political campaigns in India, with instances of AI-generated content being shared by parties on both sides of the political divide. These include K T Rama Rao of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) campaigning for the Congress, audio and video messages featuring deceased leaders J Jayalalitha and M Karunanidhi, and a viral song video featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

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As India heads to the Lok Sabha polls, GenAI-driven campaigns are gaining traction, especially given that over half the population uses at least one social media networking site. “The introduction of GenAI in poll campaigns has led to a significant increase in the re-personification of candidates,” noted Preetham Venkky, chief digital officer at DDB Mudra Group, a marketing agency.

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Echoing the observation, Diggaj Mogra, a political consultant and director at Jarvis Technology and Strategy Consulting, said personalised audio messages are in high demand due to their relatability, scalability, and cost efficiency.

GenAI-driven content in politics has witnessed a sharp uptick since October-November 2023, after a few videos, including one featuring the late Karunanidhi, went viral recently. “Initially, we used to get only 1-2 requests in a year. But during October-November last year, such requests surged to more than a hundred,” said Divyendra Singh Jadoun, founder, The Indian Deepfaker, a synthetic media company. 

Overcoming the language barrier

The Indian Deepfaker offers voice-cloning services in 117 different languages. Jadoun explained: “The calls are made by a conversational AI agent, giving the impression that the leader is making a direct conversation with the voter, by using his/her name.” 

With a diverse voter base and a wide range of local issues and interests, AI-generated content is helping politicians to be omnipresent. “Voice cloning can now address each issue mentioned in the manifesto, removing language and knowledge barriers,” observed Venkky.

Vaibhav Walia, chairman of the communication war-room 2024 for the Congress, revealed the plans to translate Rahul Gandhi’s speeches into almost eight different languages using GenAI and machine learning (ML). He added that AI is being used not only for content creation but also for reaching the target audience.

Easing the cost burden

Also, easy accessibility, scalability, and mass production have cut down the cost of campaigning, especially for independent candidates and those from smaller parties.

Senthil Nayagam, founder of Muonium AI, a Chennai-based visual effects studio, said that parties pay approximately Rs 15-20 per video targeting a particular voter. However, the cost may vary depending on the level of personalisation in the content. Jadoun noted that a full campaign, including voice cloning, a digital avatar of the leader, and social media dissemination, can be designed under Rs 40-45 lakh with the help of GenAI. 

“About 80 per cent of the work we do is AI-driven. We have a small team of less than 10 people. AI has cut down my labour costs by 70 per cent,” said Nayagam.

Tool on trial

Despite its cost efficiency and high level of personalisation, GenAI is still being used as an experimental tool by political parties. Abbin Theepura, a political strategist and founder of Politique Marquer, believes that “this Lok Sabha election is more of a trial for GenAI content.” He explained: “Our AI model helps us analyse data for creating accurate advertisements. It has reduced the hours we used to spend on excel-sheets but the groundwork is very much there. Our team collects the data and AI interprets it.” 

The wild West

Tech giants and GenAI platforms, including Meta, Google, and OpenAI, are in discussions with the Election Commission of India about monitoring AI-generated content. However, an official framework is still largely absent. Preetham Venkky suggested that each social media platform needs to build a stronger mechanism to regulate the use of GenAI, though he noted that this goal has not been achieved for the current poll season.

Jadoun explained that customised phone calls collect data, such as location and age. This data, along with local concerns and recommendations, can be used by political parties to plan for welfare programmes. 

While startups and political parties have their own conditions and guidelines for using GenAI, there is a lack of standardised measures. Jadoun revealed that his company rejected over 50 requests in November from customers who wanted to edit audio and video content to disparage political rivals, some of which contained explicit content. “But some firms agree to such conditions at a very low cost,” he added.  

Changing landscape
 

– Easy accessibility, scalability, and mass production with the help of AI have cut down the cost of campaigning, especially for independent candidates

– Rs 40-45 lakh for a full political campaign  

– 117 languages offered in voice-cloning services

– 70% cut in labour costs of firms

– Rs 15-20 per video targeting a particular voter

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