A specialised AI to help find every word spoken by any politician on any topic

Leonard Sengere Avatar

What about this for a model? Paul Allen’s idea is to create a studio that produces AI models like a movie studio produces films. He believes in building specialized AI that excels in specific fields. His AI studio, Soar AI, has released several AI models so far.

It is an interesting model but today we shall focus on one of the AI models they have released in beta – Citizen Portal.

Citizen Portal seeks to help citizens engage with their government and hold it accountable. It helps citizens stay informed about their local leaders by allowing them to deep search and find every word spoken by every elected leader on every topic.

We are all too familiar with this – we elect leaders (or they elect themselves) and we haven’t the slightest idea what they actually get up to day to day in their representation of us. If I asked you what your MP thinks about some of the contentious subsections in some recent Acts and Bills, would you know?

It’s a shame we don’t follow up on this and hold these people accountable because many of their public meetings are recorded.

In Zimbabwe, Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) is the official record of debates in the Senate of the Zimbabwe Parliament. Since independence, the Parliament has published records of debates. Even the National Assembly and committee meetings have Hansards.

Hansard is an edited transcript—written record—of what is said in the Parliament of Zimbabwe: in the Senate, the National Assembly and committee hearings.

Unfortunately for us, the official website of the Parliament on which these Hansards can be viewed is often down. As it is right now.

Text vs video

There are various organisations that try and publicise these Hansards and unpack what’s in them. We should be grateful for their efforts.

However, it still remains that the majority of us have never laid eyes on any Hansard.

There are various reasons for this. We sometimes feel defeated, as if our efforts to hold politicians accountable would be a waste of time. I get this feeling, it is not entirely unwarranted.

The other reason we don’t engage with that content is that it is in text form. Reading through pages upon pages of “You’re out of order, Honourable Minister” is not on anyone’s weekend fun activities list.

However, when a video of Themba Mliswa being kicked out of Parliament and him protesting hits social media, it quickly goes viral. If that interaction were in text form, it would not have gone as viral.

Sometimes, we get to watch some of these Parliamentary sessions on live television and that’s infinitely more digestible than transcripts. I couldn’t tell you why some sessions have live video recordings and some don’t.

Anyway, those sessions are long and even if you had all the video recordings available to you, trying to find out what a certain MP said about a particular topic in a particular year would not be easy.

Citizen Portal

This is the problem that Citizen Portal is trying to solve. They transcribe all those videos and make it so you can “search for any keyword spoken, and narrow results to a specific speaker by typing @ followed by any elected official’s name.”

Once you locate the video of the elected official, you can save a clip or create a highlight and share it. That should work better for your TikTok content.

You know how generative AI is prone to hallucinate and confidently fabricate things? That won’t be a problem on Citizen Portal as the AI is trained on just actual recordings of politicians. The programming forbids it from flexing its creative muscles.

I was messing about on Citizen Portal trying to see what different U.S. politicians have said about Zimbabwe. It was all there to peruse with the actual videos of the politicians talking there to view. I can’t imagine how long that would have taken if I didn’t have a tool like Citizen Portal.

Citizen Portal will also send AI-generated summaries of those politicians’ meetings. That should make it easier to keep track of what’s being talked about because let’s be honest, no one is going to sit through all those meetings. The only videos you’ll watch in full are the ones that concern you. Even then, just the parts you care about.

Citizen Portal is starting out in the U.S. but has plans to expand all over the world, to Zimbabwe too.


I believe that in Zimbabwe we already have a good system of transcribing parliamentary debates. To make those records more useful we need to be able to search through them easily.

I should be able to type in a keyword or phrase and get results for any time period I’m interested in, just like Citizen Portal allows.

I believe that even without the video component, a deep search feature for parliamentary debates would be a game-changer. In an ideal world, we would have video recordings of all parliamentary debates, as video is easier for most people to digest.

So, here I am hoping Citizen Portal gets here soon. Or a local outfit gives us that kind of service. I prefer the latter but whatever comes first. If you know of a local outfit working on this, do share in the comments section below.

Soar AI studio

We met with Soar AI founder Paul Allen (of Ancestry.com fame) and got to hear more about their AI Studio. We focused on Citizen Portal in this article but there are many other specialised AI as mentioned above.

  • Faith Portal (whatever your religion, imagine having an AI trained on your sacred texts, important scholars, important teachers’ sermons etc. Asking that AI questions would be like having a pastor on speed dial)
  • Founder Portal
  • Workshop AI
  • Sales AI
  • Friend Portal
  • More…

Allen sold us on this idea. I gotta say, it makes sense to me. Where the likes of ChatGPT and Bard are great for more general enquiries, they are not as suitable for more specialised enquiries. For that you need specialised AI trained on curated material and programmed not to hallucinate.

Allen challenges us all to think about how AI could help us in various facets of life. He wants you to question,

How could AI help with my health? Or how could AI help founders, entrepreneurs, make better decisions then succeed faster and fail less often? How could an AI copilot be built to help you be a better salesperson? How could AI help you be a better leader or manager at work?

This is what Soar AI is trying to do with its AI studio. Sounds interesting at the very least.

Also read:

American experts on why ChatGPT is not available in Zimbabwe

Using AI to tailor pricing to individuals, devise advertising strategies and more


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  1. 🎥


  2. Cook Dem

    😅I’m all for using AI to put politicians feet to the fire🔥

  3. My story & I’m sticking to it, 🤐

    Accountability is one thing our “leaders” do not want…..This app could be “a threat to national security” as they put it when they are questioned.

    1. tvm

      Accountability and our leaders don mix oil and water

  4. ah

    this has to be one of the cr @ppy sh ! tie st websites all around, it ranks with pindula news probably in the top 3 sh ! tt est websites in Zim , gee it sucks !!!!

    1. Skeezy

      Show us your website which ‘rocks’…..on second thoughts, what are you doing on boring website

    2. Anonymous

      really went out and typed a whole paragraph on the said, “boring website”. That’s a lot of energy man. You’d have better used that energy to search for the best websites in Zimbabwe, smh.

  5. mocbai

    Yes, I am entirely agreed with this article, and I just want say that this article is very helpful and enlightening. I also have some precious piece of concerned info !!!!!!Thanks. mocbai

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