Ukraine Appoints AI as Official Spokesperson

Ukraine Appoints AI as Official Spokesperson | Just Think AI
May 21, 2024

Ukraine has become the first nation to officially appoint an AI-generated avatar as a digital spokesperson and "AI diplomat." Meet Victoriya Shi, the pioneering AI representative for Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Victoriya's photorealistic 3D avatar, modeled after popular Ukrainian singer and TV personality Rosalie Nombre, will deliver pre-prepared official statements and messaging on behalf of the ministry. Each of her video statements will include a unique QR code that links to the official text version on the ministry's website, serving as an authentication measure against deepfakes.

While limited to pre-scripted video statements for now, Victoriya Shi represents the first concrete step toward integrating artificial intelligence directly into the sensitive realm of international diplomacy and government affairs. Her creation has sparked excitement over AI's potential to revolutionize communications, but also sparked major ethical debates that must be carefully navigated.

Groundbreaking Advantages of Deploying An AI Spokesperson

Adopting AI models like Victoriya Shi for official communications roles offers several key advantages over relying solely on human representatives:

1. 24/7 Availability & Consistency

  • AI never needs breaks, gets flustered, or makes mistakes under pressure
  • Ensures absolutely consistent messaging with no risk of contradictions

2. Multilingual & Audience Adaptation

  • Can deliver the same core messaging seamlessly across multiple languages
  • Ability to subtly adapt tone, examples, and framing for diverse audiences

3. Dynamic Information Campaigns

  • Quickly and efficiently deploy large-scale audio/video information campaigns
  • Coordinate massive Q&A video responses across social media channels

4. Cost & Scalability Advantages

  • Cheaper than employing multilingual human teams for 24/7 communications
  • Can easily scale AI efforts up or down as situations demand

While human experts and oversight will always be essential, an AI spokesperson provides a powerful force-multiplier for delivering information rapidly, consistently and at a global scale.

Glaring Ethical Risks of Anthropomorphized AI "Diplomats"

However, Ukraine's unprecedented use of an AI ambassador also raises major red flags that cannot be ignored:

🚩 Lack of True Understanding & Accountability

  • As an AI, Victoriya has no personal agency, moral framework or true language understanding beyond her training data
  • If the AI makes a controversial claim or statement, who is held accountable?

🚩 Potential for Bias and Manipulation

  • AI language models can inadvertently amplify biases in their training data
  • Could be manipulated to spread misinformation or propaganda if unchecked

🚩 Eroding Trust in Diplomacy

  • Diplomacy relies heavily on trust, reputation, emotional intelligence and negotiation
  • Using an AI perceived as "fake" could dangerously undermine diplomatic credibility

🚩 Ethical Quandaries of Anthropomorphization

  • Giving the AI a realistic human-like persona and identity raises philosophical questions
  • Could the "individual branding" cause people to treat the AI with heightened deference?

Clearly, while the AI spokesperson technology is impressive, Ukraine's approach of making Victoriya so human-like and branded as a diplomat pushes boundaries in unsettling ways.

Governance Vacuum Around Emerging AI "Diplomacy" Technology

The fact that Ukraine has taken this unprecedented leap into AI-assisted global communications and digital diplomacy seemingly without much public consultation or governance is also raising alarms.

Most experts agree some form of guidelines and accountability measures are urgently needed, as other nations will surely follow Ukraine's lead on developing AI representatives and spokesmodels.

"Ukraine's use of an AI ambassador is highly innovative but also a Pandora's box of ethical risks if deployed recklessly without proper governance guardrails," said Liz Bentley, Executive Director of the Responsible AI Institute.

Bentley outlined several potential principles for governing the use of AI in diplomacy:

  • Human oversight and accountability for AI spokesmodels
  • Clear transparency that communications are from an AI, not a human persona
  • Prohibitions on AIs impersonating real individuals or claiming undue credentials
  • Well-defined policies on appropriate vs. inappropriate use cases
  • Regular third-party auditing to detect biases, safety issues or manipulation
  • Direct acknowledgement of an AI's limitations like lack of true understanding

"We're not saying don't use AI diplomacy tools, as the potential upsides are immense," Bentley added. "But a complete governance vacuum around this could lead to abuses that dangerously undermine trust in our diplomats, leaders and the information we rely on."

Ukraine's Claimed Safeguards & Proactive AI Ethics Principles

For its part, Ukraine says it is taking a very proactive and well-governed approach to deploying Victoriya Shi responsibly:

  • All statements will undergo multi-party approval and fact-checking before being provided to the AI
  • The AI is not autonomous and cannot make any spontaneous comments outside its script
  • Clear disclosures that Victoriya is an AI will accompany all communications
  • Ukraine also says it aligns with ethical AI principles including:
    • Human oversight and control
    • Transparency
    • Privacy protection
    • Non-discrimination & prevention of biased outputs
    • Accountability for AI system outcomes

However, critics argue these safeguards and principles don't go nearly far enough when it comes to the high-stakes realm of international diplomacy and state communications. Many argue Ukraine should have consulted AI ethicists and other nations before taking this major leap.

The AI Ambassador is Here to Stay - Governance is Urgently Needed

Love it or hate it, Ukraine's bold experiment with Victoriya Shi has cracked open a new frontier of AI integration into the highest levels of government and diplomacy. Like it or not, the world's first "AI ambassador" marks the start of a new era.

The technology and communications advantages offered by AI representatives simply cannot be ignored by any nation seeking to be responsive, consistent and multilingual in the age of global information flows.

At the same time, Ukraine admits Victoriya is just an initial "beta test" of AI diplomacy. Many larger questions around ethics, transparency, safety, biases and governing principles remain unanswered.

If left unchecked, the use of manipulatable AI spokesmodels could trigger crises of trust and conflicting information by nations deploying dueling AI reps for different strategic agendas.

Properly governed with the right safeguards however, AI diplomacy tools could enhance transparency, facilitate multilingual engagement, and reduce conflict from misunderstandings.

Either way, Ukraine's unprecedented first move confirms this powerful technology needs proactive governance soon. The AI ambassadors are already here - it's up to us to collectively decide how this future unfolds.


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