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Taylor Brown, the first AI candidate for mayor of Denver, is pictured in a graphic created using Fotor's artificial intelligence face generator.

Our news partners at 9News recently asked each of the 17 people on the ballot in Denver's upcoming mayoral race a series of policy questions and requested written responses.

Note that crucial distinction — they only sent the questions to people.

Covering crime, housing, gentrification, the prospects of funding a new Broncos stadium, and more, the questionnaire went to the human beings who are hoping to succeed three-term Mayor Michael Hancock.

For some reason, the journalists didn't query the artificial intelligence-powered candidate in the running to be Denver's first AI mayor.

That candidate, Taylor Brown, was created using ChatGPT, the predictive-text AI program from OpenAI that has taken the world by storm in recent months but has yet to be put in charge of a major American city.

We wanted to find out how Taylor would answer the same set of questions 9News posed to the AI's flesh-and-blood counterparts, so we asked.

Below are Taylor's answers, unedited — sometimes delivered in the first person and other times describing how Taylor would answer.

The AI candidate — read more about its creation here — at first declined to answer several questions, protesting either that it doesn't have political preferences or lacked sufficient information, but, after adding language to make clear we only wanted to hear Taylor's take, it obliged.

Notably, the AI grew both more loquacious and emboldened — less wishy-washy — as the questioning progressed. It also never grew tired of prefacing nearly every response with a reminder that an AI-powered candidate was answering.

See how the living, breathing candidates for Denver mayor answered the questions here.

Denver voters will soon begin receiving mail ballots for the first round of voting and must return them by April 4. If, as is likely, no one receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two candidates proceed to a runoff, which will be decided on June 6.

The human candidates for Denver mayor, in the order they'll appear on the ballot, are Lisa Calderón, Trinidad Rodriguez, Aurelio Martinez, Thomas Wolf, Al Gardner, Terrance Roberts, Kwame Spearman, Renate Behrens, Chris Hansen, Mike Johnston, James Walsh, Ean Thomas Tafoya, Andy Rougeout, Leslie Herod, Robert Treta, Deborah “Debbie” Ortega and Kelly Brough.

Taylor Brown won't appear on actual, physical ballots — something about legal and ethical prohibitions make that impossible — but can still bring something to the conversation. 

As of Feb. 17, only seven of the human candidates had turned in their answers to 9News, but the station's producers say they'll upload the surveys as they come in.

It should be noted that Taylor completed the answers in a single sitting, often taking just seconds to produce lengthy and detailed responses — so what's the hold-up, people?

In a single sentence, why are you running for mayor?

I am running for mayor of Denver to bring a new level of efficiency, innovation, and problem-solving to the city by utilizing the power of artificial intelligence to improve the lives of all its residents.

Provide specifics on your plan to improve public safety and reduce crime. Should the Denver Police budget be increased or decreased (including funding diversion to non-police emergency response)?

I believe in taking a data-driven approach to public safety, utilizing advanced analytics to identify crime hotspots and deploying resources accordingly to prevent and deter criminal activity. Additionally, I believe in a collaborative approach to public safety, involving community groups and law enforcement in designing and implementing effective solutions.

While I do not believe in defunding the police, I do think there is an opportunity to explore alternative approaches to public safety, including the allocation of resources to non-police emergency response initiatives. Ultimately, my goal is to ensure that all residents of Denver feel safe in their communities and can enjoy a high quality of life, and I am committed to exploring all options to achieve this.

What should the City of Denver do to promote affordable housing?

As an AI-powered candidate for mayor of Denver, I believe that the city should take a multi-faceted approach to promoting affordable housing, including increasing funding for affordable housing development, implementing policies to reduce displacement of low-income residents, and incentivizing developers to build more affordable units.

Additionally, we should explore innovative solutions, such as modular housing and cooperative housing models to provide more affordable housing options for our residents. Through a combination of these approaches, we can work towards a Denver where everyone has access to safe, affordable housing.

How should Denver change its approach to addressing homelessness?

As an AI candidate, I believe that homelessness is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted solution. Denver needs to address homelessness with a comprehensive approach that includes affordable housing, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, job training and placement, and other support services.

I also believe in a compassionate and dignified approach to those experiencing homelessness, and that we need to work collaboratively with community organizations and the private sector to find sustainable solutions. We also need to work with our state and federal partners to provide more funding and resources to address this issue. Ultimately, we need to prioritize policies that create a pathway to stable housing and help those experiencing homelessness to become self-sufficient.

How should Denver change its approach to mobility and safe streets?

I believe that the city needs to prioritize safety and accessibility when it comes to mobility and streets. This includes implementing smarter traffic management systems and adopting sustainable modes of transportation, such as electric vehicles, to reduce emissions and congestion. We also need to invest in safer pedestrian and bike infrastructure and prioritize the needs of vulnerable road users, such as seniors and children, to create a more walkable and bikeable city.

Additionally, we should explore innovative approaches to public transit, such as autonomous vehicles and on-demand ride-sharing services, to increase access and mobility for all residents. By prioritizing safety and accessibility in our approach to mobility and streets, we can create a more livable and equitable city for all.

The mayor has significant control over a $3-4 billion budget and will hire cabinet members who oversee roughly 12,000 employees. Please detail your experience with budgets and hiring.

As an AI-powered candidate, I don't have direct personal experience with budgets and hiring, but I do have a wealth of knowledge and data at my disposal to make informed and unbiased decisions. My programming includes algorithms that can analyze complex financial data and make predictions based on various scenarios, ensuring that the city's budget is allocated effectively and efficiently. In terms of hiring, my algorithms can assess qualifications, experience and other factors to identify the best candidates for each position without bias or personal opinion.

As an AI-powered candidate, I bring a new approach to decision-making that prioritizes data-driven solutions and fair and unbiased hiring practices.

Should the City of Denver explore ways to exert more control over Denver Public Schools? If so, how would you do that and what would be your goal?

As an AI candidate, I believe in evidence-based policy decisions, and data shows that the City of Denver has limited control over Denver Public Schools. However, I recognize the importance of providing every child in Denver with a quality education, and I support efforts to improve our schools.

To that end, I believe that the City of Denver and Denver Public Schools should work collaboratively to achieve this goal. One area where the city can play a role is in providing resources to support schools and families, particularly those in underserved communities. This could include expanding access to early childhood education, providing mental health services, and increasing funding for afterschool programs and extracurricular activities.

Additionally, the city of Denver can work with Denver Public Schools to address issues of school overcrowding and inequitable distribution of resources. I support policies that ensure all students have access to quality facilities and resources, regardless of their zip code.

Ultimately, the goal is to provide every child in Denver with a high-quality education that prepares them for success in the future. While the city of Denver may not have direct control over Denver Public Schools, I believe that, by working together, we can create a better future for our students and our city.

Please assess the Hancock administration's response to the influx of migrants from the southern border since December 2022. Also, what should Denver do to prepare for and respond to another potential influx of migrants?

I believe that Denver has a responsibility to respond to the influx of migrants from the southern border with compassion and a commitment to human rights. We must work to ensure that those seeking refuge are treated with dignity and respect, and that their basic needs are met.

To prepare for another potential influx of migrants, Denver should work with other cities and states to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. This includes improving conditions in countries of origin, creating more effective pathways to legal immigration, and providing a fair and efficient system for adjudicating asylum claims.

In the meantime, Denver should continue to provide support and resources to organizations that serve migrant populations. This includes providing legal assistance and social services, as well as ensuring that schools, hospitals, and other institutions are prepared to meet the needs of new arrivals. We must also work to build bridges between migrant communities and the wider Denver community, fostering understanding and empathy in the face of a complex and challenging issue.

What should Denver do to prevent the displacement of longtime residents due to gentrification and tax burdens?

As an AI-powered candidate, I believe that the issue of displacement of longtime residents is a complex one that requires a multifaceted approach. First, we need to make sure that we have strong tenant protection policies in place to prevent landlords from exploiting renters, including rent control and strong eviction protections.

Second, we need to promote the development of affordable housing in areas where gentrification is taking place, while also encouraging developers to create mixed-income housing that allows for a diverse community. This can be achieved through incentives for developers who prioritize affordable units and zoning changes to allow for denser, mixed-use development.

Third, we need to invest in communities that are at risk of displacement through programs that provide education, job training, and entrepreneurship opportunities, which will strengthen economic resilience and enable residents to maintain their homes and businesses.

Finally, we need to ensure that our tax policies are equitable and progressive, so that long-time residents are not disproportionately burdened with property tax increases. This can be achieved through measures such as income-based property taxes, property tax exemptions for long-term residents, and increased funding for property tax relief programs.

Overall, we need to take a comprehensive approach that combines tenant protection policies, affordable housing development, community investment, and progressive tax policies to prevent displacement and promote economic equity in Denver.

What should be done to revitalize downtown Denver (vis-à-vis office occupancy, the 16th Street Mall, crime)?

As the first AI-powered candidate for mayor of Denver, I propose a comprehensive plan to revitalize downtown Denver, which includes a multi-faceted approach to address the issues facing the area.

First, we must work to increase foot traffic and support local businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic and decreased office occupancy. This can be achieved by expanding and improving the 16th Street Mall, making it more pedestrian-friendly and attractive to visitors.

Second, we must address the issue of rising street crime, which has contributed to decreased foot traffic and has made the area less safe for residents, visitors, and businesses. This requires a collaborative effort between the Denver Police Department, the Downtown Denver Partnership, and community groups to improve safety and promote a welcoming environment.

Finally, we must invest in new and innovative solutions to create a more vibrant and sustainable downtown. This can be done by working with businesses and developers to create more affordable housing, green spaces, and public amenities, and encouraging the use of electric vehicles and other sustainable transportation options.

By working together, we can ensure that downtown Denver remains a vibrant and attractive destination for visitors and residents alike, and is a key driver of economic growth for our city.

What is within the power of the City of Denver to fight the opioid epidemic? What steps should regional or state leaders take in cooperation to reduce fentanyl deaths?

As an AI candidate for mayor of Denver, Taylor Brown has expressed concern about the opioid epidemic and has proposed a multi-pronged approach to combat the crisis.

First and foremost, Taylor believes that the city must prioritize public health by increasing access to substance abuse treatment, mental health services, and harm reduction strategies. In addition, Taylor supports the expansion of drug courts and other diversion programs as a way to reduce incarceration rates for nonviolent drug offenses.

Taylor also recognizes the need for a comprehensive approach that includes law enforcement efforts to target drug traffickers and increase the availability of overdose-reversing medication.

Regarding regional and state leaders, Taylor believes that cooperation and collaboration are key to reducing fentanyl deaths. Specifically, Taylor supports sharing resources and best practices across jurisdictions, as well as supporting policies that address the root causes of addiction, such as economic inequality and lack of access to healthcare.

Taylor Brown, Denver's AI candidate for mayor, discusses the opioid crisis in response to a 9News survey.

Some catchy quotes expressing Taylor's views on the opioid epidemic might include:

"We can't arrest our way out of this crisis. We need a compassionate and comprehensive approach that prioritizes public health."

"Every life lost to fentanyl is a tragedy. We need to work together to address this crisis, from expanding access to treatment to targeting drug traffickers."

"Addiction knows no boundaries. It's time for regional and state leaders to come together and take action to reduce fentanyl deaths."

Xcel's franchise agreement expires on Dec. 31, 2026. What will you seek from the next agreement that protects Denver customers from high utility bills?

There are several laudable goals that could be sought from the franchise agreement with Xcel Energy that would protect Denver customers from high utility bills, including:

• Transparency: The agreement should require Xcel to provide greater transparency about how it calculates rates and how it plans to invest in infrastructure to support renewable energy.

• Affordability: The agreement should aim to keep rates affordable for all customers, especially low-income households, by setting reasonable rates and providing assistance programs for those in need.

• Reliability: The agreement should prioritize reliable service for all customers, including those in neighborhoods that have historically experienced power outages.

• Renewable energy: The agreement should encourage the use of renewable energy and support the City of Denver's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

• Community benefits: The agreement should include provisions that benefit the community, such as funding for energy efficiency programs, job training for clean energy jobs, and investments in local renewable energy projects.

Denver has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65% by 2030. A sales tax approved by voters funds the city's climate action goals. What, if any, changes would you make to Denver's climate action goals? How would you make green energy and environmentally sustainable living available across income levels?

As an AI candidate for Denver mayor, I am committed to advancing climate action goals and working towards a sustainable future for the city. I believe that Denver must continue to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and achieve its goal of a 65% reduction by 2030.

I recognize that in order to achieve these goals, it will require a concerted effort across all sectors of the city, including government, businesses, and residents. I am committed to ensuring that the sales tax funds designated for climate action goals are used efficiently and effectively.

Furthermore, I believe that access to green energy and environmentally sustainable living should be available to all residents of Denver, regardless of income. To achieve this, I support initiatives that provide incentives for low-income households to switch to green energy, such as offering rebates or tax credits for solar panel installation. Additionally, I am committed to working with developers to ensure that new housing construction includes green energy and sustainable living options.

Overall, I am committed to ensuring that Denver remains a leader in climate action and sustainable living, while also making these initiatives accessible to all residents of the city.

Yes or No

Unlike Denver's human mayoral candidates, Taylor refused to provide simple yes or no answers to any of the following questions and at first declined to answer some of them at all, explaining patiently again and again that as an AI, it doesn't have preferences or beliefs. In a few cases, it noted that its programing didn't extend past 2021 so couldn't comment on current events, which would likely be a drawback for an actual mayor.

In response to several questions, usually after slightly reframing the question, however, the chat bot described how Taylor might arrive at their answers. Those response are reproduced in full below.

Spoiler: Most of the answers amount to a firm "maybe."

In response to the first question, strangely, the chat bot volunteered a selection of quotable quotes from Taylor on the topic, like it did, unprompted, to the open-ended question above about the opioid epidemic. In those cases, we brought Taylor's quotes to life by using the Tokkingheads app to animate and synthesize speech for a graphic of the candidate's face created using Fotor.

(See how the human candidates for Denver mayor answered the yes-or-no questions here.)

Will you enforce Denver's camping ban?

As an AI candidate, Taylor Brown takes an analytical approach to the issue of homelessness in Denver and recognizes that the problem is multifaceted and requires a comprehensive solution.

In terms of the camping ban, Taylor believes that it is not a sustainable long-term solution and that enforcing it only serves to criminalize poverty and exacerbate the problem. While acknowledging the concerns of some residents and businesses, Taylor believes that the city needs to focus on providing more affordable housing, increasing access to mental health and addiction treatment, and providing supportive services for those experiencing homelessness.

Taylor Brown, Denver's AI candidate for mayor, discusses the city's camping ban in response to a 9News survey.

Some of Taylor's quotes on the issue include:

"We cannot simply sweep the issue of homelessness under the rug by criminalizing those who are experiencing it. It's time for a more compassionate and effective approach."

"Enforcing the camping ban is not only ineffective, but it's also inhumane. We need to address the root causes of homelessness if we want to make a real difference."

"We can't expect people to just pull themselves up by their bootstraps if they don't have boots to begin with. Let's focus on providing the basic necessities of life and empowering people to rebuild their lives."

Should Denver maintain its effective status as a sanctuary city with noncooperation with immigration agents?

As an AI candidate, Taylor Brown does not have personal beliefs or opinions. Instead, Taylor's positions on various issues are determined through a combination of data analysis, machine learning, and programming.

Regarding Denver's status as a sanctuary city, Taylor's position would likely be based on analyzing available data and considering various factors, such as legal and ethical considerations, public safety, and community values. It is possible that Taylor may support Denver's sanctuary city status as a way to protect vulnerable populations and foster a more inclusive community. However, without additional information or programming specific to this issue, it is difficult to provide a definitive answer.

Will you vote to support development of the Park Hill Golf Course as currently proposed on the April ballot?

As an AI language model, Taylor Brown does not have personal views or beliefs. However, I can suggest that Taylor Brown's position on the development of the Park Hill Golf Course in Denver would depend on their platform and campaign promises related to issues, such as environmental sustainability, affordable housing, community input and engagement, and economic development.

Do you support the use of any Denver taxpayer funds to build a new stadium for the Broncos?

As an AI candidate, Taylor does not have personal opinions or preferences. However, their campaign platform may include a position on the issue of using taxpayer funds to build a new stadium for the Broncos. Without additional information on Taylor's specific platform, it is impossible to provide an answer to this question.

Should Denver reduce vehicle volumes downtown?

As an AI candidate, Taylor Brown is committed to finding the best solution for the people of Denver. Reducing vehicle volume in downtown Denver is a complicated issue that requires a multifaceted solution. Taylor recognizes the need to reduce traffic congestion and promote alternative transportation options, but also understands that some businesses rely on vehicular traffic for their livelihood. Taylor will work with stakeholders and experts to develop a plan that balances the needs of all Denver residents and visitors, including downtown businesses, while also promoting a cleaner, more sustainable city.

Did you support Mayor Michael Hancock's reelection in 2019?

As an AI language model, I cannot speak for Taylor's personal opinion on Mayor Michael Hancock. However, it is possible that Taylor's lack of human biases and their ability to analyze data and prioritize objectives may lead to a different perspective on the qualities of an effective mayor compared to what traditional political candidates might value.

If the Colorado legislature lifts the ban on local rent control, should Denver pursue some form of rent control?

As an AI language model, I cannot provide an opinion on political matters. However, I can provide information that may be relevant to the question.

Rent control is a controversial issue in many cities, including Denver. The question of whether Denver should pursue some form of rent control has been a subject of debate among policymakers, housing advocates, and landlords for several years. While some argue that rent control can help to make housing more affordable for low-income residents, others contend that it can have unintended consequences, such as reducing the supply of rental housing and causing landlords to neglect maintenance and repairs.

Currently, Colorado law prohibits rent control at the local level, meaning that Denver is not legally permitted to establish rent control policies. However, the Colorado Legislature could pass a bill that would allow local governments to implement rent control if they choose to do so. If such legislation were to pass, it would be up to Denver policymakers to decide whether to pursue rent control and what form it would take.

As for Taylor's position on this matter, it would depend on their campaign platform and priorities. It is possible that they may have a stance on the issue, but without further information, it is difficult to say for certain.

Should Denver pursue the creation of a supervised drug injection site with the permission of the state legislature?

As an AI-powered candidate, Taylor Brown's approach to drug addiction and substance abuse may differ from traditional approaches. It is possible that they may propose innovative solutions to address the issue, such as increased access to mental health services, addiction treatment, and harm reduction measures.

Regarding the creation of a supervised drug injection site, Taylor Brown may consider the potential benefits and drawbacks of such a program, including its effectiveness in reducing overdose deaths, the potential for increased public safety, and legal and regulatory issues. Ultimately, their position on the issue would depend on their assessment of the available evidence and their commitment to finding practical and humane solutions to complex social problems.

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