How A.I. Tools Could Change India’s Elections

Avatars are addressing voters by name, in whichever of India’s many languages they speak. Experts see potential for misuse in a country already rife with disinformation.
How A.I. Tools Could Change India’s Elections

For a glimpse of where artificial intelligence is headed in election campaigns, look to India, the world’s largest democracy, as it starts heading to the polls on Friday.

An A.I.-generated version of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that has been shared on WhatsApp shows the possibilities for hyperpersonalized outreach in a country with nearly a billion voters. In the video — a demo clip whose source is unclear — Mr. Modi’s avatar addresses a series of voters directly, by name.

However, it is not perfect. Mr. Modi appears to wear two different pairs of glasses, and some parts of the video are pixelated.

Down the ladder, workers in Mr. Modi’s party are sending videos by WhatsApp in which their own A.I. avatars deliver personal messages to specific voters about the government benefits they have received and ask for their vote.