Griffith student AI chatbot may be the future of referenda

Griffith University students have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot to help inform voters about the upcoming Voice to Parliament referendum, which could also be the future for electoral communications.

As part of a special Griffith course focusing on the forthcoming referendum on constitutional recognition of the First Peoples of Australia, the Griffith students aim to support citizens to cast an informed vote.

The chatbot relies on official government sources, the Law Council of Australia, academic resources and the various campaign positions.

Chatbot curator and Bachelor of Laws student Stephanie Chard said the use of AI chatbots for elections and referenda has great potential in the future, making it an effective and efficient way to answer voter queries.

“The technology will allow people to anonymously ask about frequently misunderstood issues,” Ms Chard said.

“The idea for the chatbot manifested from my own frustration with finding information.

“Some people hesitate to ask questions out of concern for how others might perceive them, especially in this heated debate where we have unfortunately seen a lot of personal attacks, even though seeking out knowledge about the referendum is vital and commendable.

Chat bot curator and Bachelor of Laws student Stephanie Chard.

“It’s for people who want to engage in a form of communication where you can have your questions answered without judgement.

“I predict younger people will be open to using a specialised chatbot such as this, to help inform themselves on current issues during a referendum or an election.”

Ms Chard said the chatbot technology is very useful for things that are purely fact-based.

“We found the chatbot has some limitations such as personal ideology, and it can’t sync with your values because that is very much a human attribute,” she said.

“The chatbot is still in the experimental stage, but we think it is complementary to the accessible resources and can even prompt people to further exploration.

“The chatbot is working well and we monitor the questions and responses daily and make alterations so it can serve with more accuracy.”

Professor A J Brown from Griffith’s Centre for Governance and Public Policy is co-convening the Griffith Law School course which encourages students to engage with their community about the referendum.

“It’s so important to engage people who are politically disengaged,” Professor Brown said.

“In this course, we have really seen our students adapting to changing needs, and we’ve seen them push themselves to get involved in the law reform process.

“It’s vital that citizens use any tool they can to inform themselves about the facts of the Voice proposal, along with whatever is already in their hearts and in their head.”

The chatbot is a third-party website plugin supported by ChatGPT and is trained on specific materials and sample question-and-answers.

Griffith students also involved in the project include Russell Burgess, Hannah Jemmott, Miranda Rhodes and Laura Cochrane.

By Jesaiah Hanna.