Artificial Intelligence to Assist Legislators

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    In Context

    • Most mature democracies are now using AI tools for better pieces of legislation and parliamentary procedures.

    About Artificial Intelligence

    • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is attracting the attention of entrepreneurs, political leaders, and policymakers the world over. 
    • About:
      • It is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. 
      • It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable.
    • Significance:
      • AI would not replace people but create new opportunities in various fields. 
      • It works on data, and if we could train our machines, it could do wonders for us in milliseconds by automating processes. 
      • AI is creating new opportunities which could not be achieved by traditional technology.

    Artificial intelligence tools to assist legislators

    • General Parliamentary job:
      • AI tools can assist parliamentarians in preparing responses for legislators, enhancing research quality, obtaining information about any Bill, preparing briefs, providing information on particular House rules, legislative drafting, amendments, interventions, etc. 
    • Decision making:
      • They can also empower legislators to make informed decisions by having access to insights into citizen grievances, media opinions, and voices of citizen-centric associations.
    • Framing policies & calling attention:
      • Compared to western democratic nations, in India, parliamentarians manage constituencies with a huge population
      • AI can analyse citizens’ grievances and social media responses, and flag issues and priorities that need immediate attention. 
      • It can also assist parliamentarians in seeking citizen inputs for public consultation of laws and preparing a manifesto.
    • Around legislations:
      • AI can also simulate the potential effects of laws
      • For example, various datasets such as the Census, data on household consumption, taxpayers, beneficiaries from various schemes, and public infrastructure can be modelled
      • In that case, AI can uncover potential outcomes of a policy
      • At the same time, it can also help in flagging laws that are outdated in the present circumstances and which require amendment.

    Global practices of using AI in legislation

    • Many Parliaments across the world are now actively experimenting with AI-powered assistants. 
    • USA:
      • The House of Representatives in the United States has introduced an AI tool to automate the process of analysing differences between Bills, amendments and current laws
      • This is of immense help to legislative staff to readily see the impact of amendatory provisions in Bills that they move through the legislative process.
    • Netherlands:
      • The Netherlands House of Representatives has implemented the “Speech2Write” system which converts voice to text and also “translates” voice into written reports. 
      • As per the Inter-Parliamentary Union (an international organisation of national parliaments), “Speech2Write comprises automatic speech recognition and automated editing capabilities that can remove filler words, make grammatical corrections and propose editing decisions.” 
    • Japan:
      • Japan’s AI tool assists in the preparation of responses for its legislature and also helps in the automatic selection of relevant highlights in parliamentary debates. 
    • Brazil:
      • Brazil has developed an AI system called Ulysses which supports transparency and citizen participation.

    Challenges for India

    • Issues with the current laws:
      • For AI to work in India, we first need to codify our laws. The challenges with current laws are they are opaque, complex and there is a huge translation gap between law-making, law-implementing and law-interpreting organisations. 
      • The Indian government has done well to set up the India Code portal, but it cannot be entirely relied upon as a ‘single source of truth’. 
    • Interface with complete chain of process:
      • The interface should contain a complete chain, right from the parent Act to the subordinate pieces of legislation passed by the central government and the amendment notifications, enabling any entity to get a 360° view. 
      • Such a requirement becomes more critical in special situations such as COVID-19. 
        • For example, in measures related to COVID-19, the central government issued over 900 notifications while State governments issued over 6,000 notifications on the subject.

    Suggestions

    • Single window for all the laws:
      • We need to make laws machine-consumable with a central law engine, which can be a single source of truth for all acts, subordinate pieces of legislation, gazettes, compliances, and regulations. 
        • For example, AI can tell us if an entrepreneur wants to open a manufacturing unit in Maharashtra and what acts and compliances are applicable
      • If a citizen wants to check the eligibility for welfare schemes, AI can recommend which schemes are eligible, based on details provided by citizens.
    • Keeping up with existing infrastructure:
      • India is also innovating and working towards making parliamentary activities digital such as the ‘One Nation, One Application’ and the National e-Vidhan (NeVA) portal.
      • The COVID-19 pandemic has given a strong thrust to the Digital India initiative and the digitisation of services
      • This momentum needs to be kept up and utilised in the field of law, policy-making, and parliamentary activities, harnessing the power of AI. 

    Way ahead

    • While doing all this, it needs to be ensured that the use of AI must be encouraged in an open, transparent, and citizen-friendly manner. 
    • AI is a powerful tool, but at the end of the day, we should be mindful of the fact that it is a means to an end and not an end in itself.

     

    Daily Mains Question

    [Q] How can Artificial Intelligence tools be utilised for better legislation and parliamentary procedures in India? What are the challenges & effective solutions to it?