The Tangled Web of Presidential Politics, AI, Transhumanism and Eugenics

Biopolitical Times
A patriotic campaign event

Dean Phillips campaign event, 1/17/24; image by
Artaxerxes, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Political rookies are rarely elected President. The big exception was the one-termer who is currently trying again, and even he ran an essentially conventional campaign. But the modern masters of technology pride themselves on disrupting hide-bound, old-fashioned industries. And what is presidential politics if not an old-fashioned industry?

We are shocked, shocked to report that AI and its makers are sidling into the race for U.S. President. Aspiring billionaire Sam Altman (he’s at least halfway there), the self-appointed industry poster boy and spokesperson, is of course involved. Puck revealed in November that Congress member Dean Phillips, who is running against President Biden for the Democratic nomination, had visited Altman, who was “considering playing a major role in supporting Phillips’s presidential run.” According to the Puck story and later coverage, Altman has been encouraged to generously fund Phillips’s campaign by Scott Krisiloff and his brother, Matt.

That name rings a bell. Matt Krisiloff is the well-connected founder and chief executive officer of Conception Biosciences, a biotech start-up trying to make human eggs outside ovaries, in a process called in vitro gametogenesis or IVG. Krisiloff, who once worked at OpenAI and reportedly dated Altman, stresses that artificial gametes could theoretically allow same-sex couples to have biological children without anyone else’s genes. Those following developments in reproductive genetics also know that combining artificial gametes and genome editing (if it could be made to work reliably) with commercialization could provide a plausible route to creating people who are supposedly biologically superior to others – transhumanist eugenics.

Back to the U.S. presidential campaign. Rolling Stone (January 18) had a good overview of the tangled connections among Silicon Valley elites, their money and ideologies, and U.S. politics,  headlined:

Did These ‘Tech Bros’ Break the Law Backing Biden’s Rival?
Allies of Sam Altman were deeply involved with Biden challenger Dean Phillips’ campaign before launching a super PAC to support him, documents show

The super PAC, We Deserve Better, got a million bucks from Bill Ackman, the financial powerhouse behind the campaign to fire Harvard president Claudine Gay; the Phillips campaign promptly deleted “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” from their website. The PAC hired another AI startup, Delphi, to build a customized ChatGPT-powered AI chatbot (Dean.Bot, aka Dean. Bot), which would let voters chat with a version of the candidate (they called it a clone, which is a considerable stretch). But the Washington Post (January 22) reported:

OpenAI suspends bot developer for presidential hopeful Dean Phillips
It’s the ChatGPT maker’s first known action against the use of its technology in a political campaign

Despite this setback, even after Dean Phillips was soundly beaten by write-in votes for President Biden in the New Hampshire primary, he vowed to “keep this baby going.” A national political campaign is apparently being run as if it were a speculative – and very risky – new high-tech investment. That seems sub-optimal.

Except, perhaps, to eugenic transhumanists.