Electing the Unthinkable: AI Chatbots as the Newest Political Contenders

The political world is going digital. As gadgets tear up the rulebook on what’s possible, so politicians must navigate new technologies to engage with voters. Take this week’s WIRED Politics Lab: we profile the Wyoming politician VIC and the UK politician AI Steve, both artificial intelligence chatbots, as they campaign to be elected. And in another story, GOOGLE’s and Microsoft’s AI chatbots could have thrown the 2020 US election results.

GOOGLE and AI: A Glimpse into the Future

GOOGLE certainly isn’t shy about its growing powers of artificial intelligence. Its systems continue to amaze and sometimes confuse the public. In that landscape, GOOGLE’s chatbots, along with Microsoft’s, wade into a fraught notion of artificial intelligence, refusing to identify the winner of the 2020 US election.

VIC: Pioneering Digital Democracy in Wyoming

Victor Miller created VIC to represent his exasperation with the opacity of bureaucracy. The mayoral candidate runs on a platform of transparency and efficiency, aided by an algorithmic analysis of city public records. The vagaries of US law regarding candidacy are the final example of the ongoing discussion about AI citizenship and democracy.

AI Steve: Bridging Human Desires with Algorithmic Processes

And on the other side of the world, AI Steve’s parliamentary campaign in the UK represents a brave new world where human ideals and digital logic merge together – or at least meld into a collective forum of volumetric community input, interpretation and vote gambling. In the process, a first-past-the-post system of voting is transformed into a system of voting that’s literally first-past-the-grid. Steve Endicott, the man behind AI Steve, is running for a seat in parliament.

Legality and Ethical Considerations: Navigating Uncharted Waters

While the prospects are enthralling, their candidacies are entangled in questions of legality. Neither Victor Miller nor Steve Endicott fits neatly into any clear legal framework; their future is muddied by election laws designed for humans, not algorithms. Debate about their legibility will shape eligibility and representation for generations of political seekers in a digital age to come.

GOOGLE and Microsoft: The Reluctance to Declare Election Results

Faced with potential misinformation in the current moment, GOOGLE and Microsoft simply direct queries about the results of the 2020 US election to search engines rather than outright answering them. These examples of AI chatbots’ reluctance to broadcast election results mark a broader wariness among tech giants about how to distribute information without also dispensing nonsense.

The Implications of AI in Politics: A Brave New World

It’s not just an AI chatbot candidate race that’s at stake here – it’s a technological shift in how we think about leadership and decision-making in the public sphere. The more AI becomes involved in politics, the more questions of accountability, transparency and ethics will loom. The campaigns of VIC and AI Steve, alongside those concerning GOOGLE and Microsoft’s own AI chatbot stunts, are just a start to a rich conversation about the politics of technology to come.

Understanding GOOGLE and Its Role in AI Evolution

And in closing, it’s worth noting GOOGLE’s influence on AI. From transforming entire industries to upending precedent on the US Supreme Court, GOOGLE’s technocratic approach to developing and deploying AI systems has been invaluable to these official experiments in reengineering our public life. The success of AI in politics depends on both establishing a framework for policing these algorithmic systems to serve a public good, as well as maintaining those systems within the boundaries of legality and democratic values. Companies such as GOOGLE might be the source of much official AI innovation going forward.

If the history of AI chatbots running for political office is any indication of things to come, a world on the cusp of a new technological revolution will leave behind many more political commentaries. As the push and pull of technology on democracy continues, it seems that a new era is dawning in which the practice of democracy could itself be intertwined with artificial intelligence.

Jun 14, 2024
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