Imagine voting for a politician who isn’t human but is an advanced AI. An AI candidate sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie. But this scenario was fairly close to reality. OpenAI shut down a chatbot named “VIC” after it officially registered to run for mayor.

CNN reported that Victor Miller, 42, filed paperwork to run for mayor of Cheyenne, Wyoming. But he didn’t list his name. Miller listed the name of a customized AI chatbot to appear on the ballot.

According to the report, he argued that the VIC (Virtual Integrated Citizen) chatbot would use technology from the artificial intelligence company OpenAI to make all political decisions and help govern the city. They did note that VIC is not affiliated with a political party.

AI has “helped me in my life personally … such as helping me with my resume,” Miller told CNN. “I think it could add a layer to help a town. I really want to see that happen.” He also mentioned that he was motivated to create VIC after he was denied access to city records about policies and procedures because he made his request anonymously.

OpenAI Shuts Down AI Candidate

OpenAI told the outlet that it shut down Miller’s access to the tool that was being used to interact with and persuade voters. According to the company, using ChatGPT in this way is against its policies.

“We’ve taken action against these uses of our technology for violating our policies against political campaigning,” an OpenAI spokesperson told CNN. On its website, OpenAI states it prohibits “engaging in political campaigning or lobbying, including generating campaign materials personalized to or targeted at specific demographics.”

Can Voters Elect an AI Mayor?

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle asked, “Can voters elect an AI for mayor?” The Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray wrote to the City Clerk of Cheyenne urging the rejection of the application, noting “Wyoming law does not permit an artificial intelligence bot to run for any office in the state, including municipal offices.”

This isn’t the first time someone tried to use ChatGPT for political reasons. Sky News reported that another candidate in the UK was using its AI models to help campaign for Parliament. Steve Endacott, chairman of an AI company called Neural Voice, answers questions from voters via AI Steve, a chatbot, on his website.

His website offered a ChatGPT chatbot where voters were able to leave opinions and help create policies. If a voter asked the tool a question about AI Steve’s policies and it didn’t have an answer, it would search and create a policy suggestion. While his website continues to operate, the tool is no longer powered by ChatGPT.

The company took action against this move and ChatGPT will no longer answer users’ questions about election results for upcoming votes and instead responds, “Sorry, I don’t have information about the results of that election.”

Some Thoughts on AI Candidates

After the news broke, people took to social media to share their thoughts on AI entering the world of politics. Someone compared the whole situation to the video game Fallout 76 saying “In Fallout 76 there was a movement to automate political representation by replacing them with robots before the bombs dropped. Life imitates art.” Another person compared it to the Netflix show, Black Mirror, writing, “I am reminded of the Black Mirror Episode with ‘Waldo’ and am slightly worried.”

Someone else said, “Great, now polling stations are going to have Captchas.” One person jokingly wrote, “How do I do a campaign donation to VIC?”

Many people took their comments to the dark side. “This is how humanity ends. With an AI finally figuring out that we are the parasite and eliminating us. Instead of us going out with a big bang. I can’t wait [upside down smiley face emoji],” one person wrote.


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