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Longshot candidate credits AI for helping him beat Biden in American Samoa caucus: ‘Very adept at technology’

Democratic presidential candidate Jason Palmer poses for a photo at a Washington hotel in Washington, Tuesday, March 5, 2024. Palmer, an unknown candidate, won the Democratic primary in American Samoa. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Jason Palmer

Jason Palmer, 52, earned just 51 votes to President Biden’s 40 in the tiny Pacific island on Super Tuesday, and he credits artificial intelligence with helping him make a tiny victory.

“I believe I won in part because I’m very adept at technology,” Palmer told the Wall Street Journal.

The Maryland native didn’t make the 7,000-mile journey from his home state to the island territory during his campaign, but instead used an interactive artificial intelligence program that answered voter questions about his policies and experience by text message and email.

He also employed on his campaign website an AI-powered avatar, PalmerAI, which looks like the candidate, talks like the candidate, blinks like the candidate, and answers voter questions like the candidate.

Palmer also held remote town hall events where he appeared by video call and spoke with voters over the phone.

“I do think the people feel like I’ve been there because I did these virtual meetings, and I engaged with them using AI,” Palmer said.

He also made sure to be open with his voters about his AI programs when interacting with them. All his AI communications begin and end with disclaimers.

The avatar cost him about $25,000 to create, the Journal reported. Along with his other AI initiatives, the program helped turn the mere $5,000 he spent on American Samoa into a primary season victory over a sitting president.

“If I had millions of dollars to market to Colorado or Vermont, who knows I might have been more competitive in those states,” Palmer told the Journal.

An entrepreneur with a wide range of experience in the tech world, Palmer has invested $500,000 of his own funds into his campaign and frames himself as a candidate more attuned to the realities of the 21st century than the 81-year-old Joe Biden.

Palmer earned three delegates from his victory on the island where the population is just 50,000. US territories can vote in primaries but are not represented in the electoral college.

To train the avatar on his website, Palmer visited a studio where he read from a number of his speeches so the program could learn his diction.

The program limits what the avatar can speak about, restricting it to Palmer’s policies but apologizing politely when queries land outside its capacity.

To train the avatar on his website, Palmer visited a studio where he read from a number of his speeches so the program could learn his diction.

While Palmer acknowledges AI can be dangerous, he also believes it is an opportunity that could prove revolutionary if approached safely — at least his AI version does.

“AI can be a powerful tool when regulated appropriately,” PalmerAI told The Post. “It has the potential to enhance job roles rather than eliminate them.”

“However, it is important to establish regulating ethical frameworks and safety protocols to ensure responsible and beneficial use of AI technology.”

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