Another Use For Artificial Intelligence — Rating & Recommending Politicians & Job Candidates

Oct 15, 2018 · 4 min read

by David Grace (

Picking Candidates For Public Office

I was looking at my sample ballot yesterday and trying to pick City Council and School Board candidates.

If I had a full-time research assistant I could tell him/her:

“Do a comprehensive study of each candidate. Check all their writings, their personal backgrounds, their social media, their campaign materials, their employment history, and the list of the donors to their campaigns.

“Compare those results against my political beliefs and assign each of candidates a score on a scale of 1–10, with 1 being candidates I would most want elected and 10 being candidates I would least want elected.”

Let The Machine Do It

Of course, I don’t have and never will have such a human researcher. But maybe I can have a virtual one, an AI Election Adviser, an app that I’m going to call: “Pick Me.”

What Are My Beliefs?

The first thing Pick Me would have to do would be to understand the values, principles, and positions I want a City Council, a School Board or a Legislature to adhere to.

Am I a believer is Big Growth, Slow Growth or No Growth? Do I love charter schools or hate them? How do I feel about the minimum wage and corporate taxation?

The first step would be for Pick Me to ask me lots of questions designed to figure out what policies and principles I would want the target elected body to follow.

Or maybe it could use only a few questions to slot me into one of 40 or 75 or 111 personality types and extrapolate my political and social positions from that general classification.

I don’t know but I bet that there are psychologists who either do or who can find out.

Who Should I Trust?

Next, Pick Me would need to scan all the information available on each of the candidates and then match each person’s positions and philosophy against mine.

But, since people lie, Pick Me will also need to create an “Integrity Index” to measure the difference between what a candidate has said about each issue and their prior actions in that regard.

Pick Me would also want to examine donor lists and employment history so that it could generate a “Financial Influence Index” to reveal those industries or individuals who might exercise material influence over a candidate.

If a labor union or the Pharmaceutical Industry has supplied much of the individual’s campaign financing, that might give us a strong indication about how that person is going to vote on union or drug-related legislation.

Is A “Pick Me” App In My Future?

So, in five or ten years might I be able to fire up Pick Me, enter the name of the elected body — 15th Congressional District or City Council for Hometown, CA — and turn it loose to find the names of all the candidates, do its research, compare the results to David Grace’s Political/Philosophical Profile, and then spit out a list with each candidate’s score plus a two or three sentence summary of their principle pros and cons from my point of view?

I can think of some potential risks from such an app as well as the potential benefits.

Adapting “Pick Me” To The Private Sector

And, as much as we might want to consider the many potential abuses and vulnerabilities of such a tool in the public sector, what about its application in the private one?

Evaluating Job Candidates

Instead of reviewing resumes and conducting job interviews, why not require, or at least allow, each job candidate to take the app’s questionnaire and submit the results?

Personality & Character Qualities

If the program’s designers are clever, they will include subtle questions designed to gauge the applicant’s honesty, integrity, common sense, determination, attention to detail, and diligence. Wouldn’t every employer want to first weed out people who are lazy, dishonest, stupid, angry and sloppy?

Once you’ve gotten rid of them, Phase 2 could focus on the remaining candidates’ technical skills and job experience.

Short of legislation prohibiting employers from considering such Pick Me evaluations, I don’t see how we can avoid using these kinds of tools to filter job candidates. And, I’m not sure we would want to.

Potential For Abuse

I can see huge opportunities for abuse and huge opportunities for benefits.

Like fire, the automobile, computers, and most tech, this kind of an app will be capable of yielding great benefits and causing great harm.

I have to wonder how long it will take some entrepreneur to create the first integrated Personality Test/Background Research/Job Candidate Recommendation app, or what I call “Pick Me.”

Or, has someone done it already?

– David Grace (

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Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 17 novels and over 200 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.

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