Artificial intelligence and its oddities are once again making the headlines. This time, its influence on the political area is becoming more and more clear as a British entrepreneur is supporting the candidacy of an AI-powered chatbot called “AI Steve” for the United Kingdom’s parliament.

Steve Endacott, a UK businessman, is behind this interesting experiment that leverages this groundbreaking technology to reimagine how democracy would look if the public would appoint an AI chatbot to have political representation.

The Birth of AI Steve

steve endacott the businessman behind ai steve

Endacott’s frustration with the traditional political system prompted him to come up with the idea of AI Steve. The usual disconnect between political figures appointed for office and their constituents is what made him explore the possibility of supporting an AI-powered virtual candidate.

He also became disillusioned with how politics worked after he was once pushed by the Conservative party to run for councilor in a location he had no chance to win at and soon found out that it’s “an old boys and girls club”.

He realized that the party had no interest in persuading younger voters as they never cast votes in local council elections.

“I thought this can’t be right. To me, it was very clear the MPs were completely disconnected from the constituents,” he told The Independent in a recent interview.

“I’m very concerned about the environment. We need a lot of change in government to actually help control climate change,” Endacott explained. “The only way to do that is to stop talking to the outside and get inside the tent and start actually changing policy.”

It was this desire to forge a direct connection between policymakers and the people they represent that inspired Endacott to create AI Steve, an artificial intelligence persona designed to engage with voters online and shape his ideas and political agenda based on their comments, opinions, and needs.

“We’re talking about reinventing democracy here, reconnecting voters directly back to their MPs so they can actually tell them what they want from the comfort of their own home,” the British entrepreneur commented.

How Does The AI Steve Experience Work?

AI Steve’s candidacy is a unique blend of cutting-edge technology and a keen desire to serve the community. Voters in Brighton Pavilion, the constituency where AI Steve is running as an independent candidate, can interact with the chatbot directly, sharing their concerns, opinions, and policy ideas.

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The AI software, developed by Endacott’s firm Neural Voice, is capable of sustaining up to 10,000 conversations simultaneously, ensuring that no voice goes unheard. As Jeremy Smith, the company’s co-founder, explained: “A key element is creating your own database of information.”

AI Steve’s platform is shaped by the very people it aims to represent. The chatbot transcribes and analyzes conversations with voters and identifies recurring themes and concerns. These insights are then presented to a panel of “validators” – ordinary citizens who evaluate the proposed policies and indicate their support or opposition.

“Having the voting system of validators to actually check those policies to make sure they’re common sense, and also in control of saying, ‘In Parliament, we want you to vote this way,’ just makes sense to me,” Endacott stressed.

To pass an idea, validators have to cast their votes and rate the proposals from 1 to 10. Policy ideas are sent weekly via email and those that are voted by more than 50% of the AI chatbot’s constituents will be adopted and added to its political agenda.

Endacott clarifies that AI Steve is not conceived to substitute MPs with artificial intelligence. Instead, it is a mere “tool” that politicians can use to become better representatives of their voters’ interests.

“You can’t replace MPs. This is a tool for MPs they can use to better represent their constituency. We’re not aiming to make decisions by computer,” he explained.

Bridging the Gap Between Politicians and Constituents

While AI Steve’s candidacy may be quite unconventional, its underlying premise strikes at the heart of a fundamental issue in modern democracies: the perceived disconnect between elected officials and the needs of their constituents.

By leveraging AI technology, Endacott aims to create a direct line of communication between voters and their representatives, ensuring that policies truly reflect the will of the people.

“Surely in a democracy, it’s what your constituents want,” Endacott asserted. “I know that it sounds so obvious, that a politician should be told what to do by his constituents. And if he doesn’t like it, tough luck. Get out of the job.” This isn’t always the case, however, as politicians are often beholden to a certain group (often donors) over their constituency.

If AI Steve manages to win a seat in the country’s Parliament, Endacott will serve as its physical representative, attending sessions and casting votes according to the policies shaped by the chatbot’s interactions with its constituents.

Are AI-Powered Assistants the Future of Politics?

A win for AI Steve would surely open up a conversation about how the political landscape could be radically changed by the technology. Although some see it as a mere publicity stunt, Endacott sees it as a genuine attempt to disrupt how the system currently works and incite a much-need discussion about the way in which politicians interact with the people who vote for them.

“You have to put away your own personal politics, your own ego and actually do what your constituents want, which is quite radical in politics,” Endacott stressed.

Moreover, the experiment raises interesting questions about how AI assistants can be used to foster a better relationship with voters and constituents. By leveraging the power of large language models (LLMs) and tools like ChatGPT or Claude, politicians could manage to train sophisticated chatbots to address the concerns of these groups promptly.

However, critics have voiced their concerns about the potential for AI systems to be manipulated or influenced by biases, highlighting the need to implement robust safeguards and transparency in the development and deployment of such technologies to aid individuals who have very influential roles in society.

The July 4th election is near and AI Steve is already part of the ballot – although his name was misspelled as Steve AI. Can he win? We’ll find out in a few days.