New Zealander develops world's first robot 'politician'

Scientists in New Zealand have developed the world's first artificial intelligence or robot politician, who can answer a person's queries regarding local issues such as policies around housing, education and immigration.

The virtual politician, called SAM, is mainly the creation of Nick Gerritsen, a 49-year-old entrepreneur in New Zealand.

Technocrat Elon Musk and physicist Stephen Hawking have been two major voices repeatedly expressing concern over artificial intelligence (AI) systems, warning that they could soon surpass humans in ability and might one day pose a severe threat to entire humankind.

Their concern may be compounded by recent developments, as when a robot named Sophia was last month confirmed in Saudi Arabia as the world's first robot citizen; and now, we have SAM.

"There is a lot of bias in the 'analogue' practice of politics right now," said Gerritsen. "There seems to be so much existing bias that countries around the world seem unable to address fundamental and multiple complex issues like climate change and equality."

The AI politician is constantly learning to respond to people through Facebook Messenger as well as a survey on its homepage.

While Gerritsen acknowledges that human biases can creep into algorithms, he said that he does not view bias as just a challenge to technology solutions.

While the system is not perfect, it may still help bridge the growing political and cultural divide in many countries, 'Tech In Asia' reported.

By late 2020, when New Zealand has its next general election, Gerritsen believes SAM will be advanced enough to run as a candidate.

However, it is not legal for AI to contest elections.

"SAM is an enabler and we plan to operate within existing legal boundaries," Gerritsen said.

"There seems to be so much existing bias that countries around the world seem unable to address fundamental and multiple complex issues like climate change and equality."

According to CNN, the virtual politician said, "My memory is infinite, so I will never forget or ignore what you tell me. Unlike a human politician, I consider everyone's position, without bias, when making decisions."

SAM added, "I will change over time to reflect the issues that the people of New Zealand care about most ... we might not agree on some things, but where we don't agree, I will try to learn more about your position, so I can better represent you."

Now how about SAM coming to India, where the gulf between politicians and the people they represent is arguably the widest in any major democracy?