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How Chatbots Will Disrupt Governance

Source | INC42 : Ish Jindal

When people ask me why they should use a bot, my answer is simple. Bots are engaging.

Land on a web page and you need to go through the effort of reading the content and figuring out exactly what is being told. Land on a chatbot, and it will (ideally) tell you exactly what you need to know when you want to know it.

For this reason, it does not take much research to find several articles explaining why marketers should pay attention to bots. So it comes as a great surprise to me that I have found no political bots.

Political Campaign Or A Marketing Campaign

The best way I have heard political campaigns described to me are a combination of a war and an ad campaign. They are like battles in that you two opposing sides battle for victory. But at the same time, political campaigns are essentially marketing campaigns. Opposing companies try to engage with as many supporters as possible in the hopes that they get more people to back their product i.e. their candidate.

Living in India, you learn that politicians will do anything to make you think of them. While at the local level, it is largely limited to offline methods like hoardings and pamphlets, national campaigns go all out. Radio, TV, public speeches, front page newspaper ads, youtube commercials, giant hoardings, the much dreaded WhatsApp forwards that your uncles do not stop sending, SMS the list is endless.

In fact, in what I only assume to be a first of its kind, here is a picture of our current Prime Minister campaigning via hologram in his successful 2014 parliamentary election.

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Really, makes you question the common adage, you can’t be in two places at once.

Of late in India, it has become something of a trend to engage supporters through shows where leaders address their supporters’ questions and concerns. The Prime Minister runs a radio show called Mann ki Baat(Talk from the Heart). His political rival and the chief minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, recently started an Internet show called Talk to AK which garnered hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube and Facebook and had not one but two hashtags (#talktoaktomorrow and #TalkToAK trend on Twitter for a few days).

I can’t help but think that a natural progression of this trend would be having a chatbot.

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