AI Robot to Run For Mayor in Japanese City

Welcome to the future of politics. In Tama New Town, western Tokyo, Michito Matsuda, 44, has introduced the world's first AI candidate for mayor. 

Matsuda is deferring to an AI-powered robot avatar, named Michihito Matsuda. Seemingly, female in appearance, she has an active Twitter handle @tama_ai_mayor and campaign website.

According to Matsuda (the human), “For the first time in the world, AI will run in an election. Artificial intelligence will change Tama City. With the birth of an AI-mayor, we will conduct impartial and balanced politics. We will implement policies for the future with speed, accumulate information and know-how, and lead the next generation.”

The AI candidate plans to deliver on fair and balanced politics by using dialogue and intake from residents to calculate the best course of action.

When conflicts arise, Matsuda claims that she can broker rational compromise between residents--a far departure from politics as usual. 

The Man Behind the Machine

Michihito Matsuda (the robot) has two tech gurus for her human counterparts. Tetsuzo Matsuda and Norio Murakami. Matsuda is vice president of mobile provider Softbank, and Murakami is a former Google employee. 

According to Matsuda, "Let artificial intelligence determine policies by gathering city data and we can create clearly defined politics."

While Mr. Matsuda's message raises many ethical questions about AI's role in politics, government and the public sphere, his candidacy may be a long-shot. This is actually the second time Matusada (the man) has stood for election for the mayoral seat. Matsuda's 2014 mayoral run resulted in a loss to the winning candidate who received nearly ten times as many votes as he did. 

The Future of Political Leadership

Regardless of whether Matsuda (the AI candidate) wins or not, her mere presence on the political stage raises many important questions:

  • What role does AI play in honoring the "will of the people?"
  • What laws should dictate AI-led governance? 
  • Should rationality alone govern the will of the people? 
  • Can AI make for a more efficient and effective government?
  • What about AI voter's rights? Should robots get a vote? 

These questions seem like something out of a science fiction novel. Perhaps we've entered the era of "social science fiction" where the will of the people and the will of intelligent machines are now in question. Whether you think Matsuda's candidacy is political hype or a serious call for more sophisticated political debate, we've clearly entered a new chapter in fourth industrial revolution leadership and politics.




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Chris Groscurth, Ph.D.

Chris Groscurth, Ph.D., is author of Future-Ready Leadership: Strategies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. For the past 20 years he has worked as a researcher and strategic advisor to leaders across healthcare, finance, manufacturing, government and education. In addition to his consulting work, Chris addresses thousands of leaders annually through speaking engagements and workshops. Throughout his career, he has held leadership positions with Trinity Health and the University of Michigan. Chris received his doctorate in human communication processes from the University of Georgia and has bachelor's and master's degrees in human communication studies from Western Michigan University.

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