A U.S. Politician Is Robocalling Voters With an AI Chatbot Named ‘Ashley’

Pennsylvania Democrat Shemaine Daniels’ campaign for the House is the first to use AI to seek a Congressional seat.
Janus Rose
New York, US
A U.S. Politician Is Robocalling Voters With an AI Chatbot Named 'Ashley'
Westend61 via Getty Images

A Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania has enlisted an interactive AI chatbot to call voters ahead of the 2024 election, taking theoretical questions about the ethics of using AI in political campaigns and making them horrifyingly real. 

The chatbot, called “Ashley,” has already begun making calls to voters in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional district on behalf of Shemaine Daniels, a Democrat running for a seat in the state’s House of Representatives in 2024. The AI robocaller is made by a company called Civox, which claims “Ashley” is the first such bot to be used in a political campaign. The company claims the bot is capable of having two-way conversations in real time, and says that it has already contacted “thousands” of people in the Pennsylvania district.


“Hello. My name is Ashley, and I’m an artificial intelligence volunteer for Shamaine Daniels’ run for Congress,” an AI-synthesized voice says when calling voters. For now, the bot is disclosing that it is not a human, but Civox suggests it is looking toward a day when that’s no longer the case.

Just like with all AI tech, the company is hyping the bot as the beginning of a new era of machine-mediated interactions that we’re all just going to have to accept. The company claims that within the next year, most Americans will have spoken to an “AI being” like Ashley, “whether they know it or not.”

“The dawn of AI politics is upon us,” wrote Ilya Mouzykantskii, the co-founder of Civox, which created the bot along with Conversation Labs, in a press release. “Civox is thrilled to be the first company in the world to deploy this game-changing voice-based technology, and we’re proud to set the bar high for best practices for this emerging field.”

The chatbot isn’t the first time politicians have drawn controversy from their use of machine learning tech. New York City mayor Eric Adams recently came under fire after using AI deepfake tech to send automated messages in languages he doesn’t actually speak—to the horror of AI ethics experts. The machine learning models which these systems are based on are also well-known for containing deeply embedded racist and sexist bias, a problem that has been mostly ignored by companies hawking the technology in the increasingly crowded AI space.


Daniels’ campaign attempts to justify the chatbot by claiming that it will eliminate the exploitation of human phone bankers, such as when former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg used prison labor to make campaign calls during his hilariously fumbled 2020 presidential bid.

Of course, using an anthropomorphized AI phone banker also eliminates the need to hire human phone bankers altogether, which is sort of the whole point. 

In the U.S., phone bankers already receive relatively paltry salaries, making on average $16.35 per hour and ranging between $27,000 and $43,000 a year. It’s unclear how much Civox is charging for access to the bot, and the company did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

In a statement, Daniels made a brief reference to the widely documented problem with AI systems, but nevertheless insisted on forging ahead.

“We talk a lot about concerns over the unethical use of AI technology, and we must be vigilant against the dangers it can bring,” Daniels wrote in the press statement. “But we need to also embrace the opportunities this new technology creates.”