Could the tweets and media of Barack Obama’s eight years in the White House be used to build a personality into a bot? Is an Obama bot in the cards? Quite possibly.
On Monday, the White House announced how it would be make the digital transition between administrations. While Obama will no longer have access to the @POTUS Twitter and other social media accounts, there are some exciting details about how his legacy will be preserved.
The White House and National Archives and Records Administration are open to releasing all of the president’s social media data and want Americans to think of creative ways to use this content, including creating a Twitter bot from Obama’s own tweets. This possibility illustrates the new ways that people are utilizing technology to build new forms of the historical record.
The coming transition marks the first major time that the White House will have to worry about passing on digital accounts that aren’t contained to the White House website. But on top of that, it’s quite interesting how the administration is actively opening up the data to the public. Instead of being unnecessarily secretive about this information, it sounds like they’re genuinely interested in what all sorts of people think of and turning to the public for projects that they might not be able to execute themselves.
In the statement, Deputy Chief Digital Officer Kori Schulman writes, “We’re inviting the American public from students and data engineers, to artists and researchers to come up with creative ways to archive this content and make it both useful and available for years to come. From Twitterbots and art projects to printed books and query tools, we’re open to it all. The White House will make our social media data available early to people who are interested in building something for the public.”
The Obama bot idea is probably one that stands out the most considering all the discussions about bots. Microsoft epically failed earlier this year with its A.I. Twitter chatbot, but other creators are making strides in building intelligent bots that are pleasant. Additionally, the idea of an Obama Twitterbot speaks to new ways that society is preserving itself. Obama has become a cultural cornerstone over the years. It makes sense people would want to distill that in the form of a piece of responsive technology.
But would an Obama bot based off just the president’s social media data be enough? He only has 317 tweets, which doesn’t seem like a lot to work off, even if you include links, media, and metadata. Perhaps if transcripts from his videos across various social platforms were added into the bot’s structure, a more full-fledged Obama bot could be built.
Imagine two decades into the future and being able to tweet at a number of different president Twitterbots. While it’s unclear how robust these methods of archival will become, there’s no doubt that people will make something out of the data that the White House plans to release. The administration is currently taking project applications for early access to this information on the White House website.
And if the idea of a bot created from previous messages strikes you as interesting, check out the person bot episode in Black Mirror’s latest season in which a collection of a dead husband’s past messages is used to make a chatbot turned robot.
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