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South Korean president enlists deepfake doppelganger to get youth vote

Yoon Suk-yeol

South Korean president enlists deepfake doppelganger to get youth vote


Future. Newly-elected South Korean president, Yoon Suk-yeol, won over the youth vote by creating an AI avatar of himself that his campaign controlled to make videos. The result: a politician that appeared more charming than the real man may actually be. With Yoon’s victory showing that the tech works, politicians in other nations may try to do the same thing… unless lawmakers act fast to outlaw official deepfakes.

Funny, likable, artificial
South Korea may have installed a clone in its presidential office.

  • People Power Party candidate Yoon Suk-yeol developed an AI copy of himself to be used by his campaign team to answer people’s questions and debate opponents.
  • The purpose of the AI Yoon was to program a version of himself that would appeal more to younger voters (Yoon is 61) by appearing wittier and smoother.
  • The videos of AI Yoon (more than 80 clips) went viral in South Korea, clocking over 14.5 million views, and raised his popularity with 20-somethings over ten percentage points.

The digital avatar of Yoon was created by Seoul-based tech company DeepBrain AI Inc. by recording Yoon’s movements in front of a green screen and recording him saying over 3,000 sentences. DeepBrain was then able to recreate Yoon saying pretty much anything, producing videos in as little as 30 minutes.

But, the videos couldn’t recreate Yoon laughing or expressing emotions such as excitement or sadness, leaving emotional overtures to the real guy.

Authenticity or optimization?
Here’s something that will make your head spin even more: during the campaign, People Power Party head Lee Jun-seok said, “Yoon is learning from his AI Yoon messages.” Translation: his AI double is a more effective politician than he is. And in another bit of irony, AI Yoon team-head Baik Kyeong-hoon said that the goal of the avatar was for voters to see “the human side of Yoon — not the stern image he projects on television.”

At first, the ruling Democratic Party and President Lee Jae-myung criticized the use of an AI clone as “fraudulent and “a threat to democracy.” But when the polls started going up for Yoon, they developed their own avatar of Lee.

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