Biden Challenger Says AI Helped Him Win American Samoa

It is exceedingly rare for an incumbent president to lose a presidential primary during a re-election campaign, but that is what happened in American Samoa earlier this month.
Not only did President Joe Biden come up short, but the winner was a little-known entrepreneur who never even visited the faraway island territory.

Jason Palmer recently weighed in on his surprising victory, noting that although voters in American Samoa did not see him in person, technology allowed him to virtually spread his message in a compelling way.

“I believe I won in part because I’m very adept at technology,” he explained.

Specifically, Palmer credited an artificial intelligence program utilized in American Samoa with providing the outreach capabilities that would have otherwise been unattainable.

The underdog candidate said the program, known as PalmerAI, allowed voters across the territory to ask questions and receive direct replies via email or text message. He also used technology to his advantage by appearing remotely for virtual town hall events.

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

Although Palmer said his campaign did not have enough money to launch a similar AI platform in other primary locations, his website implemented a lifelike avatar that provides responses in his voice.

The program was trained using the text from previous speeches delivered by Palmer so it would have a base of knowledge that reflects his actual policies. Of course, the avatar is unable to answer every question and offers an apology when it cannot provide a relevant response.

Creating the avatar cost roughly $25,000 and the campaign invested another $5,000 in the AI outreach in American Samoa, which Palmer said essentially provided a path to victory over a sitting president for a relatively low amount of money.

“If I had millions of dollars to market to Colorado or Vermont, who knows?” he said. “I might have been more competitive in those states.”

While Palmer’s high-tech strategy allowed him to make his case to voters, Biden’s low approval rating was also a likely factor in the outcome of the American Samoa primary election.

A Yahoo News/YouGov survey in November found that a clear majority of Democratic voters wanted to see a challenger emerge to take on Biden in the primary race.

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