Parliament Matters

Is AI set to destroy trust in elections? Tackling misinformation in politics & Parliament

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Episode notes

The emerging role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in shaping political discourse is a potential game changer. It has the capacity to fabricate fake interviews and manipulate images, all of which could mislead voters and disrupt the democratic process. But could it affect the results of our elections?

We talk to Chris Morris, the head of factchecking organisation Full Fact, about the threats posed by these technologies, the potential scale of misinformation in politics, and the measures politicians and political parties need to take to counteract them.

With public trust in political figures at a low ebb we discuss how AI-generated misinformation could further erode confidence in electoral integrity and democratic values and the responsibility on political parties to therefore use AI ethically.

Chris Morris stresses the importance of preparing in advance for scenarios where AI could influence election outcomes, including at the individual constituency level. He suggests looking to models like that used in Canada for handling major information incidents to ensure clarity and trust in how election-related misinformation is addressed. Full Fact has called for similar proactive measures to be discussed and implemented in the UK

We also delve into the recent parliamentary rule changes that extend to all MPs a right that was previously reserved for Ministers – the right to rectify any inaccurate statements in Hansard, the official record of parliamentary proceedings. But should MPs face sanctions, perhaps even a criminal offence for lying in Parliament, if they refuse to correct inaccuracies?

Full Fact frequently draws attention to inaccurate claims made by MP, but not all MPs are willing to correct the record. So, what reason do these MPs give for their unwillingness to retract inaccurate statements?

And with the general election potentially just weeks away, we discuss how Full Fact is gearing up organisationally for the campaign and its role in combating misinformation. We discuss the importance of media literacy, and whether the focus of factcheckers should be on ‘pre-bunking’ misinformation – putting accurate information out in the public sphere first – rather than on ‘de-bunking’ false claims once they are made and the falsehoods have spread. 

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Parliament Matters is a Hansard Society production supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

Producer: Gareth Jones

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