By Lee Min-hyung
Artificial intelligence (AI) is expanding its footsteps into the election, with a local startup launching a big data-based politics prediction service for the ongoing presidential race.
Fount AI, a Seoul-based firm specializing in natural language understanding and machine learning technologies, started its chatbot service Rose, Monday, allowing Kakao Talk messenger users to add the AI chatbot to their friend list.
Kakao Talk is the nation's dominant free messenger app with some 50 million users across the world, mostly in Korea.
With the presidential election a few weeks away, the chatbot provides users with up-to-date information about candidates ― including major pledges, support ratings and recent news. Once users type in keywords or questions about the election, Rose replies by taking advantage of its massive politician-related datasets.
This comes at a time when big data is taking center stage as the backbone of emerging technologies ahead of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, enabling machines to make human-level predictions with more accuracy.
The chatbot is also piling up datasets in real time to deliver detailed information about voting and polling places near users' location. If a user types in a certain area in a chatroom with Rose, the AI system delivers a list of voting station locations nearby for the May 9 presidential election.
The service also has also made a list of candidates' frequently used words in their recent live debate, analyzing what the main pledge is for each candidate.
"The chatbot is programmed not to answer certain questions, as we want to minimize any politically sensitive controversy," Fount AI CEO Joo Dong-won said. "We want Rose to be more widely known during the presidential race and contribute to raising the voter turnout."
Rose is unique in its format of chatting with an AI messenger robot, but it is not the first time that data-centered analytics tools have been used in politics.
In particular, Google Trends, which shows users' search-related data by time, location and popularity, has drawn worldwide attention after correctly predicting Donald Trump would become the U.S. president last year.
It stunned the world, as most renowned human experts predicted otherwise ― many said former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was more likely to step foot into the White House.