There may be an app and (pretty soon) a bot for just about everything, but this might be a first. SapientX, a company that has been in stealth mode for the last year, has created chatbots for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton that provide words directly from the candidate’s mouth on topics ranging from abortion to taxes and terrorism.
The chatbots are able to answer questions in text or voice about roughly 100 topics, like: “What do you think about the Black Lives Matter movement?” or “Do you think that women should be paid as much as men?” A full list of sample questions and topics is available here.
The two bots can be found on AskHillaryandDonald.com, and they draw on audio clips taken from public media since Clinton and Trump declared their candidacy for the presidency more than a year ago, said Jonathan Hirshon, a member of SapientX’s board of advisors.
The Hillary and Donald bots are SapientX’s first publicly shared bots. Before launching these voice recognition political bots, SapientX was working with “various departments of U.S. intelligence on A.I. and bot technology for more than a decade,” Hirshon said.
AskHillaryandDonald.com comes with no commentary from San Francisco-based SapientX, who said their bots are designed to provide unfiltered information in an age when virtually every media outlet has a bias and an axe to grind.
“We’re actually looking at this as an education forum for people who are Democrats and Republicans to get sort of an unalloyed, unvarnished, truthful opinion of how each candidate is perceiving each of these questions and topics,” Hirshon said.
If you feel the urge to hear an imitation of Donald Trump’s voice blended with artificial intelligence, there are other bots for that.
The Twitter bot DeepDrumpf was made by Bradley Hayes, a researcher at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (CSAIL) lab. His Trump A.I. was trained on a few hours of Trump’s speeches and has amassed more than 20,000 followers.
When it comes to the bots made by SapientX, the words of Clinton and Trump are mouthed through avatars created in part by Charlie Powell, an artist whose work has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, Slate.com, and other publications.
The avatars might give these presidential bots a light-hearted feeling, but SapientX wants people who use them for both entertainment and education, because at stake is the election of the first women president in American history or the election of one the first presidents with virtually no experience in politics or elected office.
“If you’re going to cast a vote, make sure you’re casting a vote from a position of intelligence and knowledge, and don’t let the propaganda from either side sway you. Make your own decision based on what the candidates themselves have said and that we’re showcasing. Don’t let the media sway you one way or the other. Make your own informed decision,” Hirshon said.
Additions will be made weekly to AskHillaryandDonald.com as the election progresses, said SapientX CEO David Colleen. Updates are already underway to add Trump’s response to allegations that his wife Melania Trump stole part of her speech at the Republication National Convention from First Lady Michelle Obama.