Florida Governor Ron Desantis, who often sounds like an AI chatbot, dropped out of the 2024 Presidential Election on Sunday, just a week after OpenAI banned ChatGPT for political campaigns. It begs the question, was Ron Desantis running on ChatGPT this whole time?
“People want to know and trust that they are interacting with a real person,” OpenAI said in a blog post last week, talking about ChatGPT but also, somehow, Desantis. “For that reason, we don’t allow builders to create chatbots that pretend to be real people (e.g., candidates).”
Politicians are reeling from OpenAI’s ban on ChatGPT for the 2024 election, but none more so than Desantis. His awkward answers and inability to smile like a real, human boy brought lots of speculation that he may be a robot. The Florida governor certainly embraced technology, becoming the first to announce a presidential campaign on Elon Musk’s X, in a Twitter Space that cut in and out for 20 minutes. Desantis’ campaign also used generative AI to create a fake speech from Donald Trump for a campaign ad back in July, pioneering the field of AI misinformation. Now, his campaign is over, but the timing is oddly coincidental with ChatGPT’s removal from political campaigns
An AI chatbot for Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips, a Democratic candidate challenging the incumbent President Biden, was suspended over the weekend by OpenAI, according to The Washington Post. The interface “Dean.Bot” would converse with voters in real-time through a website. Phillips’ chatbot seems to be slightly scaled down from Ron Desantis, who somehow hooked OpenAI’s API up to his mouth.
If Desantis is powered by ChatGPT, there are several kinks to be worked out. For example, when the Florida governor was asked what he was eating for dinner after a debate one night, he answered, “Yea, we’ll let her rip.” Not quite a normal, human response, unlike others who responded with “salmon” or “enchiladas.” In another instance, someone at a car show made a light joke, causing Desantis to convulse and erupt in extreme laughter, with everyone staring at his malfunction.
Artificial intelligence has been used by politicians in several terrifying ways this past year. A Yiddish-speaking version of New York City Mayor Eric Adams started cold-calling people in October. It turned out to be one of many AI chatbots the mayor had deployed, which also spoke Spanish and Mandarin (Mayor Adams only speaks English).
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman banning the use of ChatGPT in political campaigns is likely a positive development for AI. Social media is littered with AI-generated deepfakes of politicians saying ridiculous things, including many of Joe Biden. One was so convincing, that President Biden himself watched it and remarked, “When the hell did I say that?” to a room full of reporters.
As for Desantis, it’s unclear whether the Florida governor was truly powered by ChatGPT. If so, it would be an extremely promising sign for OpenAI’s technology. ChatGPT, nor Desantis, are ready for a presidential run, as both seem to need more human values instilled in them.