On May 22, we gathered the Kista Science City community for a deeep dive in artificial intelligence and democracy. Moderated by Binette Seck, this event featured Dr. Heather Ashby, a former US Government Security and Foreign Affairs Specialist. Dr. Ashby shared her expertise on how emerging technologies are reshaping our political landscape and transforming democratic processes and political campaigning.

The impact of AI on elections

In 2024, more than half of the world’s population are heading to the polls. These elections are happening during a perfect storm of new AI tools becoming available. Dr. Ashby highlighted India’s election as an example, noting the unprecedented use of generative AI. This election offers a glimpse into the future of voting processes influenced by AI, with tools generating deep-fake videos, memes, and audio to manipulate public opinion on an never-before-sen scale. This situation creates massive challenges for maintaining fair and transparent elections, demanding attention from policymakers and tech developers alike.

Harnessing AI for positive change

Despite these challenges, AI technologies have the potential to strengthen electoral processes. Several countries are already using AI to enhance democratic engagement. For instance, AI-powered chatbots provide up-to-date information on voting, candidates, and the electoral procedures, helping voters make informed decisions and increasing overall participation in democratic processes. These developments are crucial in countering misinformation and ensuring accurate information reaches the public.

To fully realize the benefits of AI and integrate it responsibly into societies, Dr. Ashby highlighted several important steps:

  • Education and empowerment: It is crucial to educate people on what AI is and what it isn’t to dispel myths and fears. Clear and accessible information can help the public understand AI’s capabilities and limitations.
  • Transparency and accountability: Regulations like GDPR are vital for ensuring transparency in how AI systems operate. Transparency builds public trust and holds tech companies accountable for their actions.
  • Training for officials: Elected officials need adequate training in technology to create effective legislation. Without proper knowledge, the legislative process can fall behind.
  • Addressing underlying issues: Tackling challenges like economic disparity, lack of education, and social injustice helps create a stable foundation for the responsible use of AI.

Looking forward: AI and democratic potential

When asked what she looks forward to in the fields of AI and democracy, Dr. Ashby expressed optimism. “I look forward to people, and the power of people, and their ideas. When you get people together to brainstorm and create something different, that’s what gives me hope,” she said, emphasizing the value of collective creativity and collaborative spirit of individuals to drive positive change and innovation. By harnessing the diverse perspectives and talents within society, we can develop AI technologies that not only support democratic values but also enhance them.


The conversation with Dr. Ashby underscored the critical impact of AI on elections and democracy, highlighting both opportunities and challenges. As AI continues to evolve, fostering discussions that balance technological advancements with democratic values remains essential. Stay tuned for more events and insights on this crucial topic.