The AtlanticThe Atlantic

Just wait until Trump is a chatbot

By Nathan E. Sanders, Bruce Schneier

28 Apr 2023 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

Politicians are already using generative AI to try and better connect with voters. The Atlantic explains how the technology is changing the ways we engage with politics — for better and for worse.

Earlier this week, the Republican National Committee released a video that it claims was “built entirely with AI imagery.” The content of the ad isn’t especially novel—a dystopian vision of America under a second term with President Joe Biden—but the deliberate emphasis on the technology used to create it stands out: It’s a “Daisy” moment for the 2020s.

We should expect more of this kind of thing. The applications of AI to political advertising have not escaped campaigners, who are already “pressure testing” possible uses for the technology. In the 2024 presidential-election campaign, you can bank on the appearance of AI-generated personalized fundraising emails, text messages from chatbots urging you to vote, and maybe even some deepfaked campaign avatars. Future candidates could use chatbots trained on data representing their views and personalities to approximate the act of directly connecting with people. Think of it like a whistle-stop tour with an appearance in every living room. Previous technological revolutions—railroad, radio, television, and the World Wide Web—transformed how candidates connect to their constituents, and we should expect the same from generative AI. This isn’t science fiction: The era of AI chatbots standing in as avatars for real, individual people has already begun, as the journalist Casey Newton made clear in a 2016 feature about a woman who used thousands of text messages to create a chatbot replica of her best friend after he died.  

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