Can AI communication tools increase legislative responsiveness and trust in democratic institutions?

Authors Sarah Kreps and Maurice Jakesch
Venue Government Information Quarterly 40.3: 101829, 2023
Links [Paper]

Smart replies, writing enhancements, and virtual assistants powered by artificial intelligence (AI) language technologies are becoming part of consumer products and everyday experiences. This study explores the opportunities and risks of using language-generating AI systems in politics to increase legislative responsiveness. Legislators receive a large volume of constituent communication and often cannot devote individual consideration and timely response to each. Here, AI language technologies may allow legislators to process constituent communication more efficiently. For example, AI writing tools can suggest reply snippets when a staffer responds to a common concern. However, legislative human-AI collaboration could reduce constituent trust or undermine the representative process. In two experiments, we compared constituents’ impressions of human-written legislative correspondence to correspondences partially or fully generated by GPT-3, a state-of-the-art language model. Our results suggest that legislative correspondence generated by AI with human oversight may be received favorably and increase constituent trust compared to generic auto-responses that busy legislators may employ. However, poorly performing AI language technologies may damage confidence in the legislator. Our findings highlight the potential and risks of introducing AI-mediated communication to the representation process. We discuss the importance of disclosure, transparency, and maintaining human-in-the-loop accountability for political deployments of AI language technologies.