I loved the idea of Madame President Hillary Clinton. I respected her as a politician, liked her as a person, and agreed with all of her policy positions. I even agreed with her private policy positions which contradicted the public policy positions I agreed with.
But then it happened. Someone shared a story on Facebook claiming that Hillary Clinton had died in New York and been replaced with a clone.
“That’s pretty far-fetched,” I thought. “This story might be fake.” I decided to examine the source of these claims. Perhaps an investigation would help me determine if this clone story was credible.
I followed the story back to a pro-Trump facebook page. Most of the accounts who followed this particular page seemed to be bots.
“Well that explains it!” I shouted. “Robots are known for their superior analytical ability. Maybe they were able to figure out things no human journalist could process.” This still didn’t shake my conviction to vote for Hillary Clinton. I supported her, so naturally I would support a clone of her just as much. Regardless, I still wanted to investigate this page further. Was this conclusion the robots had made a fluke, or were their other calculations just as accurate?
The next story on the page was about Hillary Clinton displaying the symptoms of Kuru, a rare disease contracted through cannibalism.
“No way that diagnosis is accurate,” I thought. “Better get a second opinion.” But then I looked below the story. Several hundred bots had liked and re-posted it. That’s several hundred second opinions! Further, they had all liked the story within seconds of it being posted, showing how exceptionally fast their processing speed was.
“Could the bots be right? Is it really possible that Hillary Clinton is a cannibal?” I wondered. “I’m sure that if she did engage in cannibalism, it was before she was against it. And who did she eat? Maybe it was someone bad who deserved it, like a member of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, or a labor union.”
Ever the skeptic, I still wasn’t ready to accept that robot technology had become so advanced. No way both of these stories were true. Maybe one, but not both. I needed more evidence and studiously poured over the facebook page.
Late in the night, I noticed the robots had also linked to and shared a press release from the Trump campaign. The implication of them sharing a page from the Trump campaign was clear: the other stories must be absolutely true. Robots cannot share both real news and fake news without short circuiting. That’s called one of the laws of robotics.
And that’s when my faith in Hillary started to fall apart.
I was okay with the idea of her being a cannibal and with her being a clone, but if both are true then logically we must reconsider the question from earlier: who did she eat? We can’t know for sure. It’s possible that Clone Clinton ate the original Hillary Clinton, and as a supporter of Hillary Clinton I cannot support anyone who might have eaten her.
My mind was made up. I would not be voting for “Hillary Clinton” in the election. I would cast my vote for Vladimir Putin.
I announced my intent on facebook and was informed he was not eligible for the position. So then I decided to vote for the second best Russian for the job: Isaac Asimov. He could make sense of these rapid advances in AI.
When I was informed he had died, I decided to vote for the third best Russian for the job: Bernie Sanders.
Foolishly, I donated to his campaign and volunteered my time. Like a sucker, I changed my mind to agree with his policy positions. It was all so easy. Too easy. I should have noticed that something was up when it became clear that he didn’t have conflicting private positions for me to find a way to agree with.
It was only months later, after the election, that I was informed by Rachel Maddow that robots could intentionally deceive humans. Apparently Russian hackers had made an amendment to the laws of robotics. As I had no knowledge of this amendment passing, I had made the only logical conclusion by assuming the stories the robots had liked on facebook were absolutely true. But I was wrong, I had been tricked and misled into wasting my vote!
How many others did this also happen to? I think it’s safe to assume that the number of people tricked in this way is exactly equal to the number of votes Hillary would have needed to win, and that they lived in the appropriate swing states.
This election it happened to me. Next election it could happen to you. If we don’t bomb Russia’s internet now, our democracy may very well fall under the complete control of the robots.