AI will transform Parliamentary democracy, says Mudenda

Jacob Mudenda

EMBRACING the wave of artificial intelligence gives the potential to transform parliamentary democracy so that it transcends borders and unifies countries in their pursuit of a common goal, Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, said yesterday.

He said artificial intelligence helps in policy formulation through meticulously analysed data and also helps in bridging the geographic and demographic divide.

Speaking in Uruguay at the 2nd Summit of the Committees of the Future, Adv Mudenda said: “Today, we stand at the precipice of a new future for democracy and Parliaments. The future behoves us to rethink and reconfigure our minds towards firmly embracing artificial intelligence (AI) which wields transformative power on our Parliaments and democratic values.

“Doubtless, the age of AI has evolved from a mere dream to an inevitable reality, poised, if effectively harnessed, to expedite the process of bringing the future of Parliaments and participatory democracy to the present.

“Undeniably, the profundity of the influence of artificial intelligence has become multifaceted and pervasive across all sectors of society. From health, education and finance, it has emerged as a tool that has propelled these sectors to the future.

“But our Parliaments, must not be left behind. We cannot afford, not any minute longer, to let the wave of AI pass and leave us behind. It holds immense potential to positively transform our Parliamentary democracy to become one that transcends borders and unifies us in the pursuit of a common goal.”

Parliaments now needed to rethink the future of parliamentary democracy. “Where laws and policies were made without widespread consultations of the public, artificial intelligence holds the potential to provide efficient platforms such as virtual town halls and AI-driven chatbots which can bridge the geographic and demographic divide.

“Where laws and policies were made without adequate data and information, AI promises to facilitate effective evidence-informed policy-making through meticulously analysed data sets on trends, sentiments and other key indicators,” said Adv Mudenda.

“Need I add that, where our parliaments appeared to be unresponsive, artificial intelligence, through real-time data analysis, can assist legislators to swiftly adapt policies and laws allowing for a more agile governance system closely aligned to the demands of our dynamic societies. I further opine that AI is the thread that will seamlessly bind the very fabric of accountability, transparency, good governance and inclusivity that anchor our current parliamentary democracy systems.”

He was cautious about the challenges associated with artificial intelligence.

“It is trite to opine that the most significant barriers pertain to understanding the scope of its application, the implicit investment requirements and the requisite skill sets to facilitate its effective implementation.

“Secondly, the ethical dilemma of the use of AI in decision-making looms large, if it is not effectively governed. It may undermine the democratic principles which we have so worked hard to sustain. Further, I cannot overemphasise the reality of the cyber-security threats, especially when it is adopted in our electoral systems, which hold the potential to destroy economies, democratic processes and national security systems.

“Additionally, we should be cautious that AI does not perpetuate the existing inequalities, if access to the tools is limited or unevenly distributed between the public and the legislators.”

Adv Mudenda said the challenges related to artificial intelligence had to be embraced with utmost courage and to realign them for the public good.

“As artificial intelligence continues to exert its expansive influence, our parliaments must adapt and respond with resounding legislative effectiveness. The legislative and regulatory frameworks, meticulously formulated by our parliaments, must govern the use of AI while simultaneously promoting and protecting the fundamental principle and heritage of ‘democratic equity’. Moreover, parliamentarians and staff of parliaments must be keenly attuned to the efficacious use of AI in discharging their mandate.”

The 2nd World Summit of the Committees of the Future 2023 is running under the theme- “Bringing the future to the present: The Democracy of the future, Artificial Intelligence and Parliament.” – Herald