Candidate Uses AI Version of Self in British Election

04:35 June 22, 2024

Candidate Uses AI Version of Self in British Election

When voters go to the polls in Brighton, England on July 4, they will get the chance to elect what some people are calling the first artificial intelligence (AI) lawmaker.

Businessman Steve Endacott is running to represent his area as a member of Britain’s Parliament. During his campaign, he has used AI tools to present voters with an electronic version of himself called “AI Steve.” The electronic image is known as an avatar.

Voters can communicate with AI Steve through a website powered by Neural Voice, an AI company. Endacott is the company’s chairman.

Endacott, aged 59, said his idea for the AI avatar came after he became unhappy with the way "standard politics" in his area operate. So he decided to run for office in a different way. The AI system permits people to ask questions and offer ideas to AI Steve. The real Endacott can look at these ideas and show them to experts and, if elected, to other members of Parliament.

Some of the issues brought to the attention of AI Steve so far include waste collection, immigration, housing, and LGBTQ rights.

Endacott bases the process on a research method called crowdsourcing. That means collecting ideas from large numbers of people to reach better solutions to problems.

Endacott told Reuters news agency he thinks using AI to gather more ideas from people supports democracy. He thinks this will help politicians know more about what people want and need. He added that he hopes to get more politicians to use AI in the same way.

"We're launching a party, we're going to be recruiting more AI candidates across the country after this election,” Endacott said. “We see this as the…building block for something big and something democratic," he added.

Aid worker Eona Johnston, aged 23, agreed with Endacott after meeting him. "We're using AI in so many (areas), at work, social interactions, why don't we put it in politics? It might change the way we live,” she said.

However, not all locals think using AI will improve government policies. "AI and politicians have one thing in common," local resident Andy Clawson, aged 42, said. "They can’t be trusted."

Endacott is a member the political party Smarter U.K. But he decided to run as an independent candidate. That means his name will not be connected with any political party on the ballot. The Labour Party and the Conservative Party are the two most influential political groups in Britain.

AI Steve is the name that will appear on the ballot. But Electoral Commission officials have made clear that if AI Steve wins, Endacott would win the seat in parliament, not any AI version of the politician.

I’m Andrew Smith.

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