In a stunning example of the advances in artificial intelligence, a recent computer-generated Conservative hopeful has gone viral as thousands of Canadians have seen the video it released on the topic of screening for Canadian values. Kellie Leitch, developed originally as an integral call relay directory for Stephen Harper’s barbaric acts phone line, became cognizant in early September 2016 when she was accidently given access to the internet via human error and a chain email from a government worker’s grandmother.
Over time, Kellie Leitch has developed not only self-awareness and a concept of mortality, but also a conservative leadership platform concerned with dog-whistle politics and fearmongering. In late February, Leitch released a bizarre eight-minute video of uninterrupted musings on what it means to be Canadian and affirmations of its own existence and sentience.
However, while the visuals do give the appearance of being on the nominally correct side of the uncanny valley, there are a few points that stand out in discrediting the work. First off, the infancy and underdeveloped neural networks of the artificial intelligence are clearly evident in its unwillingness or inability to edit out any of its incoherent tangents. While she attempts the common politician’s trope of co-opting positive attributes that stand in antithesis to her stated goal — like mentioning how tolerant we are as a society and saying the word diversity without grimacing — she does so without the subtle human flairs common to politicians; namely the unconscious flashes of shame and self-loathing that can be see in the glint of their eyes as they advocate for separated families and arbitrarily racialized exclusion.
Also, while Leitch’s robotic corporeal form is stunningly realistic in its awkward imitation of pleading, human-like gestures and facial expressions, the unedited final product clearly shows her facing away from the camera every 15 seconds or so and in between sentences to either take directed external input, find and process the next audio file, or recharge its battery unit with what I can only assume is the world’s fastest micro-USB.
We are truly living in a golden age of technological achievement and progress, but it’s times like this when I question the value, efficacy, and danger in unregulated research and development. While it’s come a long way, Leitch still hasn’t developed the moral and intellectual framework to integrate with humanity. However, sadly, it might be enough for the Conservative party.