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HomeTechThere’s an AI Candidate Running for Parliament in the UK

There’s an AI Candidate Running for Parliament in the UK

Vittoria Elliott

As the United Kingdom heads toward its elections next month, the country is seeing its first instance of a new kind of politician: an AI candidate. AI Steve, an avatar of real-life Steven Endacott, a Brighton-based businessman, is running for Parliament as an Independent.

Voters will be able to cast their ballots for AI Steve, as well as ask policy positions or raise issues of their own. AI Steve will then incorporate suggestions and requests into its platform.

Endacott will be the in-person representative attending meetings and parliamentary sessions on behalf of AI Steve. He says that he sees AI Steve as a way to allow for a more direct form of democracy. “We are actually, I think, reinventing politics using AI as a technology base, as a copilot, not to replace politicians but to really connect them into their audience, their constituency,” says Endacott.

Currently, AI Steve is mistakenly listed on the ballot as Steve AI, which Endacott is working to correct.

AI Steve was designed by Neural Voice, an AI voice company of which Endacott is the chair. According to Jeremy Smith, the company’s cofounder, AI Steve can have up to 10,000 conversations at once. “A key element is creating your own database of information,” says Smith. “And how to inject customer data into it.”

The idea for AI Steve came from Endacott’s own frustration with trying to enter politics in order to advocate for issues he cared about. “I’m very concerned about the environment. We need a lot of change in government to actually help control climate change,” he says. “The only way to do that is to stop talking to the outside and get inside the tent and start actually changing policy.” When Endacott attempted to stand for office in years past, he said he felt like it was all about party jockeying and worrying about which seats or districts were “safe” rather than responding to the needs of real people.

AI Steve, he claims, will be different. AI Steve will transcribe and analyze conversations it has with voters and put issues of policy forward to “validators,” or regular people who can indicate whether they care about an issue or want to see a certain policy enacted.

Endacott says that his team plans to reach out to commuters at the Brighton train stop, about an hour outside of London, asking them to fill out short policy surveys by email on their commutes to or from the city to help fill this role.

“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,” says Endacott.

AI Steve has only been live for a day or so, but Endacott and Smith say that the primary concerns expressed by people contacting AI Steve have been about the conflict in Palestine and local issues such as trash collection.

While Endacott says that he expects his own opinions or policy preferences may differ from those of AI Steve at some point, he says he is committed to voting in line with the constituent preferences as expressed through AI Steve.

“Surely in a democracy, it’s what your constituents want,” he says. “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.”

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