Yuriko Koike turns to generative AI to share her policy stances and goals with mixed audience reactions.

Is Japan on the brink of a full-on explosion in the use of generative AI within politics? 

We recently saw the non-English-speaking Mayor of Yokosuka City speaking fluent English with the help of AI, much to his own surprise. Now, Yuriko Koike, the Governor of Tokyo and one of the country’s most prominent politicians, has taken the technological plunge. First elected in 2016 and reelected in 2020, Koike is currently seeking a third term in office at the upcoming Tokyo gubernatorial election on July 4. Many have speculated that the release of an official AI version of herself around the same time that she announced her bid is a move to demonstrate her willingness to embrace technological advancements.

The AI version of Governor Koike was introduced to the world in a brief “AI Yuriko News” post focusing on the elimination of income restrictions on June 13.

▼ First edition of “AI Yuriko News”

The video description contains the following explanation for the new release:

“In order to share the work to date of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government more widely in a manner that is easy to understand, we have harnessed generative AI to create this video. AI Yuriko will deliver it on behalf of Yuriko Koike, who is hard at work in her official duties as Governor of Tokyo.”

At first, some net users thought the video was a joke, but all doubts were cast aside after quickly realizing that it was posted on Koike’s official Twitter account. The account has continued to publish new installments of “AI Yuriko News” on a daily basis, each with an easily digestible length of around 1 minute and 30 seconds. The second video, somewhat fittingly, focuses on the rapid digitalization of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The video description also specifies for the first time that AI Yuriko is not a business operation nor does it use taxpayer money for its creation.

▼ AI Yuriko shares context surrounding efforts to digitalize the government

Skipping slightly ahead, the June 15 video focuses on Koike’s efforts to change the name of maternity/paternity leave in Japanese to reflect that time spent caring for new children is not resting, but important work for the future.

▼ AI Yuriko speaks on her efforts to change the language and attitudes regarding childcare leave

Several Japanese political voices shared their reactions to AI Yuriko on her posts. Writer Hirotada Ototake, deputy head of Japan’s First no Kai political party (which has close ties with Koike) who recently had an unsuccessful run for a spot in the Tokyo House of Representatives [Lower House] by-election on April 28, commented, “Her intonation is not yet perfected so I couldn’t help letting out a little chuckle.” Current member of the House of Representatives (Niigata 5th district) Ryuichi Yoneyama was less than impressed, stating, “I have no idea about the costs, but there’s zero rationality in having AI speak. She should speak with her own mouth, and I think she ought to.”

Net users in general chimed in with incredulity at the advances in generative AI, imperfect though it may be:

“This initiative is ground-breaking. It would be more time-efficient if AI made media appearances (pre-recorded) about policy announcements on behalf of busy politicians.”

“The busier the person, the more suited they are for an AI avatar. I feel like this initiative will accelerate the application of generative AI.”

“Amazing! It’s the video of a fictitious leader called ‘Mother’ from a dystopian science fiction movie.”

While it’s still unclear how the future of AI within Japanese politics will go, we can trust that AI Yuriko will keep us posted about that and more, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s launch of a new official dating app sometime this summer.

Source: Twitter/@ecoyuri via My Game News Flash
Top image: Twitter/@ecoyuri
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