An AI Chatbot Is Running for Mayor — And Cracking Under Pressure

Victor Miller, Cheyenne's new mayoral candidate, says he is a "meat avatar" for a bot named Vic

A digital rendering of an AI chatbot. In Cheyenne, Victor Miller is running for mayor as the "meat avatar" of an artificial intelligence bot named Vic.
Vic “knows [the law] thoroughly, understands it completely,” says Miller.

It came for college essays, boardroom pitches and break-up texts. Now, artificial intelligence is attempting to infiltrate the government. Earlier this month, Victor Miller declared his intent to run for mayor of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Although it was the 42-year-old’s information on the legal paperwork, Miller described himself as the “meat avatar” of the actual candidate: an AI chatbot named Vic. 

Vic, which stands for “Virtually Integrated Citizen,” was digitally conceived after local officials denied a public records request submitted by Miller. In an act of defiance, Miller registered himself (under his nickname, “Vic”) for the Cheyenne mayoral election. My chatbot “knows [the law] thoroughly, understands it completely,” Miller told NBC News. “And had I been interacting with it instead of the fallible human, I would have gotten my request fulfilled per the law.”

Vic is powered by ChatGPT, a service often lambasted for its inconsistencies and digital “hallucinations.” After recent reporting on the platform’s inaccuracy in the political sphere, OpenAI, ChatGPT’s parent company, barred the chatbot from responding to election-related questions.

As for new Cheyenne candidate, “Miller said Vic’s politics weren’t entirely clear,” per NBC. The human candidate said he knew for certain that the bot was in favor of “government transparency,” but had been influenced to an unknown degree by his own beliefs. Beyond that, Miller was hopeful that Vic would accrue “more intelligence, less biases” and display “pure, data-driven analysis” as the campaign progressed. 

AI Has Done Terrible Things to Image Searching
This is all heading to some very creepy places

Now, Vic and Miller are leading joint town hall meetings, allowing prospective voters to ask the chatbot questions through a speaker wrapped around Miller’s neck. When Vic does speak, it displays an “upbeat masculine identity,” according to Cowboy State Daily, that is “packaged with the necessary ‘uhhs’ and requisite pauses” that are hallmarks of a human politician. Evidently, Miller has taken the necessary steps to make his bot a real salt of the earth American, save for its incorporeality.

Meanwhile, it appears Miller has crossed into something of a legal gray area. While he meets the statutory requirements to participate in the election, his transparency about serving as an AI “meat avatar” has raised concerns statewide. In a June 10 email, Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray implored the city clerk of Cheyenne to reject Miller’s candidacy. “Mr. Miller’s application is in violation of both the letter, and spirit, of Wyoming’s Election Code,” Gray decried. “Wyoming law is clear that an AI bot cannot run for office.”

Legal complications aside, it is unclear whether Vic will survive the campaign as it currently exists. After a recent update, the chatbot inexplicably swapped his “masculine cowboy” tone for the voice of a chipper woman. Shortly thereafter, Vic forgot how to say its own name, pronouncing it as it’s spelled: V-I-C. Miller remains unfazed, blaming Vic’s erratic behavior on OpenAI and repeatedly affirming his faith in the chatbot. “It listens to its constituents,” Miller told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. “I’m just a conduit.”

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.