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March 1, 2024

AI’s Influence in India’s 2024 Election: Deepfakes and Democracy’s Dilemma

As India gears up for its monumental 2024 elections, the use of AI-generated media, particularly deepfakes, is becoming increasingly prevalent, raising concerns about the integrity of the democratic process. Political parties, including the BJP and Congress, are harnessing AI tools to manipulate videos and audio, blurring the lines between reality and fiction.

In a recent incident during state elections in Telangana, the Congress party shared a seven-second deepfake video of KT Rama Rao, a leader of the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samiti, endorsing the Congress. The video spread rapidly on social media platforms, reaching hundreds of thousands of viewers before its falsity was revealed. This deceptive tactic highlights the growing sophistication of AI-generated media and its potential impact on electoral outcomes.

With India’s vast electorate of nearly one billion voters, the stakes are high, and political parties are exploring novel strategies to sway public opinion. The BJP, known for its technological prowess, has been at the forefront of using AI tools for campaigning since as early as 2012. From 3D hologram projections to more recent deepfake videos, the BJP has leveraged technology to amplify its message and influence voter perceptions.

However, the use of deepfakes extends beyond traditional campaigning tactics. Political consultants and AI startups are inundated with requests from parties seeking to manipulate videos and audio to discredit opponents or spread false narratives. Despite ethical concerns and the potential legal ramifications, the demand for AI-manipulated content persists, fueled by the ease of accessibility and affordability of AI tools.

The proliferation of deepfakes poses a significant threat to the integrity of India’s electoral process. With the rapid spread of misinformation and the blurring of reality, voters are susceptible to manipulation, undermining the principles of democracy. While efforts have been made to combat the spread of deepfakes, including voluntary agreements by tech companies and appeals from civil society organizations, the challenges persist.

As the 2024 elections approach, the influence of AI in shaping public discourse and voter sentiment is undeniable. The convergence of technology and politics has ushered in a new era of campaigning, where truth and authenticity are increasingly elusive. As political campaigns embrace AI-driven strategies, the future of democracy hangs in the balance, with the potential for deepfakes to distort reality and undermine public trust in the electoral process.

Rajan Shukla

Rajan Shukla

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