Fika Juliana Putri, 19, of Jakarta, intends to vote for the former special forces commander in the Indonesian presidential election next week. Fika Juliana says she likes him because he loves to embrace. A doe-eyed cartoon representation of General Prabowo Subianto, generated using general AI, has appeared on billboards around Indonesia.
Fika Juliana Putri, a 19-year-old shopkeeper in East Jakarta, intends to vote for the former special forces commander in the Indonesian presidential election next week. Fika Juliana says she likes him because he loves to embrace.
A doe-eyed cartoon rendition of General Prabowo Subianto, generated using general AI, has decorated billboards around Indonesia. It has been copied on sweatshirts and stickers, as well as prominently featured on #prabowo-tagged TikTok posts that have been seen approximately 19 billion times.
Prabowo is Indonesia’s Defense Minister. However, her chubby-cheeked AI avatar on social media creates Korean-style finger hearts and cradles her pet cat Bobby, much to the joy of Generation Z voters. Nearly half of Indonesia’s 205 million registered voters are under the age of 40.
The general elections in Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy, on February 14 provide a glimpse of how generative AI may alter political campaigning on a massive scale, according to experts.
The AI-generated cartoon has played a significant role in Prabowo’s election campaign, which is now winning in surveys. Prabowo, along with her doppelganger built using technology from US business MidJourney Inc, led hundreds of candidates in developing campaign art, measuring social media sentiment, making interactive chatbots, and targeting voters with generative AI techniques.
How are presidential candidates using AI?
The audio and video clips have taken over Indonesia’s social media landscape ahead of the country’s elections on February 14, garnering countless shares via the popular messaging platform. At first glance, they look absolutely real. But upon closer inspection – with the help of a plethora of free websites and applications – they have been exposed as deepfakes created or modified using artificial intelligence (AI).
With the introduction of chatbots, such as Dell in 2021 and ChatGPT in 2022, the usage of AI is growing globally. According to Grand View Research, the worldwide artificial intelligence market was valued at US$196.6 billion in 2023 and is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 37.3% between 2023 and 2030.
As its popularity continues to grow, those running in the upcoming Indonesian presidential and parliamentary elections have stepped into the world of AI. They include the campaign teams of presidential candidates Prabowo Subianto and Ganjar Pranowo, who reported they are using AI to win the hearts and minds of Indonesia’s 200 million eligible voters.
Anies Baswedan, the second presidential contender and former Jakarta governor, is not employing AI in his campaign. However, analysts are critical of the use of artificial intelligence for political reasons. He warns that it may also result in the development of misinformation and black campaigns, which are political techniques that propagate false claims against opponents.
Even before AI became popular, disinformation was common in Indonesia. Especially ahead of the 2019 presidential election, which has left the country of over 270 million people split along party lines.