"Wyoming law will decide the matter."

Crown VIC

An AI chatbot named VIC, or Virtually Integrated Citizen, is trying to make it onto the ballot in this year's mayoral election for Wyoming's capital city of Cheyenne. But as reported by Wired, Wyoming's secretary of state is battling against VIC's legitimacy as a candidate — and now, an investigation is underway.

According to Wired, VIC, which was built on OpenAI's GPT-4 and trained on thousands of documents gleaned from Cheyenne council meetings, was created by Cheyenne resident and library worker Victor Miller. Should VIC win, Miller told Wired that he'll serve as the bot's "meat puppet," operating the AI but allowing it to make decisions for the capital city.

And why should VIC run? According to its creator: paperwork!

"My campaign promise," Miller told Wired, "is he's going to do 100 percent of the voting on these big, thick documents that I'm not going to read and that I don't think people in there right now are reading." (Also, VIC is a "he," apparently.)

Unfortunately for the AI and its — his? — meat puppet, however, they've already made some political enemies, most notably Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray. As Gray, who has challenged the legality of the bot, told Wired in a statement, all mayoral candidates need to meet the requirements of a "qualified elector."

This "necessitates being a real person," Gray argues. And VIC, of course, is not a real boy.


Laramie County attorney Brad Lund, who's working on the investigation, told the local Wyoming Tribune Eagle newspaper that the matter should be concluded by the first week of July, when ballot documents are due to go public.

"Ultimately," Lund told the Tribune Eagle, "Wyoming law will decide the matter."

But VIC's legal battle may not be its only obstacle. Per Wired, it's also run amuck with OpenAI, which says the AI violates the company's "policies against political campaigning." (Miller told Wired that he'll move VIC to Meta's open-source Llama 3 model if need be, which seems a bit like VIC will turn into a different candidate entirely.)

VIC wouldn't be the first effort to put AI in positions of political leadership. Back in 2022, a new political group dubbed "The Synthetic Party" emerged in Denmark, touting an AI chatbot dubbed "Leader Lars" as the party's figurehead.

But making a chatbot mayor, if still theoretically, is rife with practical and ethical landmines. Like feeble humans, AI programs make mistakes; that the AI isn't human could also confuse normal routes of political accountability. It's also often unclear how and why AI models come to the decisions that they do, which doesn't exactly facilitate public trust.

In any case, like any politician, VIC is campaigning on in the face of scrutiny.

"I'm running for mayor to bring innovative technology," the bot "told" the Tribune Eagle, "and data-driven decision-making to Cheyenne."

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