NATIONAL

[Election 2017] Candidate research gets easier with AI, matching service

By Bak Se-hwan
  • Published : Apr 19, 2017 - 15:39
  • Updated : Apr 20, 2017 - 18:51
For some voters, figuring out which presidential candidate fits best with the issues and qualities they care most about can be a cumbersome task.

This is particularly so if the election is being held with an exceptionally high number of candidates and an excruciatingly tight schedule, as is the case with South Korea’s upcoming presidential vote.

To help voters overcome such difficulties and make an informed choice, at least two free-of-charge services have emerged. They entail an online candidate-voter matching platform, a trend from the 2016 US presidential election, and an artificial intelligence robot.

An image of "Nude President" website


At Nude President, a website dedicated to undecided voters, users are asked to “invest 10 minutes for their next five years” to answer a set of multiple-choice questions, such as on their views on the controversial deployment of a US anti-missile system and public education reforms.

Once they complete the survey, the site shows the candidates they match with most and least, and even the specific matching rates between the respondent and other candidates in a visual chart format. One shortcoming of this service is that it only covers the five candidates from the mainstream political parties, not all 15 registered.

“The reality is that it’s difficult to find the right candidate who best represents your interests, especially in this year’s snap election,” Kang Youn-mo, the director of Fiscal Note Korea, a startup that operates the website, told The Korea Herald.

“My hope is (our service helps) people to do research on candidates and their pledges before going to the polls,” Kang added.

Since the site’s launch on March 11, over 500,000 South Koreans have found their presidential match.

The site is also designed to act as a voter analysis platform.

Based on its data on participants and their survey answers, it offers clues as to what voters of a certain age group are most interested in.

An image of chatbot Rose answering to "How rich is Ahn Cheol-soo?" and "Show me Moon Jae-in's support rating"

Another service gaining traction among voters is the voting guide robot Rose on KakaoTalk, the country’s most popular mobile chatting app.

A chatbot programed to answer questions from users, Rose focuses on collecting information about the May 9 election and its 15 candidates, and providing it to voters as clearly as possible.

Users can key in demands and questions such as “Show me the job pledges of Moon Jae-in,” or “How wealthy is Ahn Cheol-soo?” The service is designed to present answers in short, simple sentences.

By Bak Se-hwan (sh@heraldcorp.com)