12 May 2024, William Bird and Thandi Smith, Daily Maverick

For this piece, given its focus on AI, we asked Google’s Gemini to give us a summary of our Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) guidelines, which is useful to get a sense of the key elements:

General principles:

  • Link AI policy to existing party values and commitments (manifestos, data privacy policies);
  • Foster public trust by being transparent about AI use:
    • Disclose details on AI use in content generation/campaigns.
    • Be transparent about internal AI use (candidate selection, voter outreach);
  • Maintain human oversight for all AI systems;
  • Define allowed and prohibited uses of AI:
    • Commit to not using AI for misinformation, deep fakes or subverting democracy.
    • Use AI with the “do no harm” principle in mind.
    • Be cautious about AI use in elections; and
  • Protect privacy and confidentiality when using third-party AI platforms.

Addressing algorithmic bias:

  • Mitigate bias by training AI on local contexts and languages.

Developing AI expertise:

  • Train party members, especially communications teams, on using AI responsibly.

Managing dependencies:

  • Clarify collaborations with external AI providers;
  • Develop plans to manage dependence on third-party systems; and
  • Explore in-house AI development or customisation (if capacity allows).

Enforcement:

  • Define consequences for non-compliance with AI guidelines;
  • Develop plans for rectifying non-compliance; and
  • Establish mechanisms to enforce AI guidelines.

Tailoring AI guidelines:

  • Adapt general principles to fit each party’s specific context;
  • Create a diverse group to address specific details:
    • Party leadership
    • Communications staff
    • Technology experts
    • Constituent representatives; and
  • Customise guidelines to address relevant AI risks and challenges.

Transparency and collaboration:

  • Consider making AI guidelines public;
  • Collaborate with other parties for shared standards and accountability; and
  • Engage in public consultations to gather feedback.

Overall goal:

  • Use AI guidelines for self-regulation and responsible engagement with constituents;
  • Develop robust, context-specific AI guidelines and enforcement; and
  • Promote healthier political discourse and rebuild trust in the AI era.”

The full set of guidelines is worth the read. Ideally, we would like a version of them to be included in the next code of conduct signed ahead of the 2026 elections. We will be meeting with the IEC to discuss. Until then we hope to still carry out some training with parties on AI.

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