AI chatbot’s mayoral bid halted by legal and ethical concerns in Wyoming

Experts argue AI can assist but should not replace human judgement in governance, labelling such candidacies as gimmicks.

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Victor Miller, 42, has stirred controversy by filing to run for mayor of Cheyenne, Wyoming, using a customised AI chatbot named VIC (virtual integrated citizen). Miller argued that VIC, powered by OpenAI technology, could effectively make political decisions and govern the city. However, OpenAI quickly shut down Miller’s access to their tools for violating policies against AI use in political campaigning.

The emergence of AI in politics underscores ongoing debates about its responsible use as technology outpaces legal and regulatory frameworks. Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray clarified that state law requires candidates to be ‘qualified electors,’ meaning VIC, as an AI bot, does not meet the criteria. Despite this setback, Miller intends to continue promoting VIC’s capabilities using his own ChatGPT account.

Meanwhile, similar AI-driven campaigns have surfaced globally, including in the UK, where another candidate utilises AI models for parliamentary campaigning. Critics, including experts like Jen Golbeck from the University of Maryland, caution that while AI can support decision-making and manage administrative tasks, ultimate governance decisions should remain human-led. Despite the attention these AI candidates attract, observers like David Karpf from George Washington University dismiss them as gimmicks, highlighting the serious nature of elections and the need for informed human leadership.

Miller remains optimistic about the potential for AI candidates to influence politics worldwide. Still, the current consensus suggests that AI’s role in governance should be limited to supportive functions rather than decision-making responsibilities.