I Asked AI About Bad Faith Politics And It Gave Me A Bunch Of Stupid Answers

I Asked AI About Bad Faith Politics And It Gave Me A Bunch Of Stupid Answers
Our AI overlords are here. 

Our horrifying machine-run future coming into focus with alarming speed, artificial intelligence mimicking human behavior, people ceding their agency to sleek little robots strapped to their bodies and crowding their homes: This is life during the final, desperate gasps of humanity as we've known it.

It won't be long before we are those useless little people from 2008's Wall-E, unable to think or do anything for ourselves while benevolent machines satisfy our every need. It won't be long now until your AI butler injects the news into your brainstem and you catch up on the latest in those freaky robot police dogs murdering protesters in cold blood. And if that generates a pang of anxiety, no worries. You can simply slip on your virtual reality mask and have a therapy session with God. Or maybe the Elon chip in your brain can wipe away the images of killer robots run amok.

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Before we become batteries for the machines, I thought it'd be prudent to see what these buckets of bolts know about politics. I recently quizzed artificial intelligence (known as Chat GTP) on political bad faith, its goals, and how to counter or stop it. Most of the machine's answers made it sound like a Resistance Lib in the early days of the Trump era, full of misplaced trust in the human capacity to tell truth from lies, and worse, the belief that everyone operates in good faith.

AI, in short, told me the fact checkers would save the republic. Here's how our dystopian conversation unfolded:

Denny: What is bad faith?
Machine: Bad faith refers to a state of mind in which someone acts with malicious or deceitful intentions. It is often used to describe a person who deliberately acts in a way that is dishonest or manipulative, with the intention of taking advantage of or harming others.
In legal contexts, bad faith may refer to a party's conduct in the course of a lawsuit or other legal proceedings that is dishonest or designed to mislead or deceive the other party. It can also refer to a party's failure to act in good faith, which is a legal requirement in many contracts and agreements.
Bad faith can have serious consequences, both legally and in personal relationships. It can damage trust and lead to conflicts and disputes. It is generally considered unethical and may be grounds for legal action or other consequences.

I sometimes forget there's a whole legal aspect to bad faith, and that people can be punished and punished severely if they're caught arguing in bad faith. The intractable problem, of course, is proving someone has thrown good faith out the window. You may know I'm not an attorney, but I read a lot about legal matters, and apparently it is extremely difficult to convince a court that a person or people or some corporate entity is deploying bad faith.

And so it goes in politics, where American conservatives use arguments they do not mean to achieve their political goals, big and small. The latest – and I'll get into this much more in a future piece – is that the American right opposes the Security State (CIA, FBI, things of that nature) because of their historical abuses of power and lack of accountability. What they really oppose is the Security State largely opposing their Big Boy when he was in the Oval Office. Extrajudicial killings of left-wing American leaders and socialist politicians in foreign nations? Manufactured lies that lead to illegal wars? That's all fine and good. In fact, they like those parts. But now they get to pretend they're oh so serious about reigning in the power of the CIA and FBI while the left is subservient to a deep state apparatus that was created specifically to stop the left from seizing power in the United States.

You can't prove that though, and that's the point. You can't show that they know abortion is an overwhelmingly safe medical procedure. When they pretend to believe abortion restrictions save the lives of pregnant people, there's no pushing back because everyone is entitled to their own facts. The right's stance on guns is bursting with bad faith, as we know all too terribly well by now.

The near impossibility in proving someone's lack of good faith is what makes bad faith so potent in modern politics. The manipulation of gullible media and the broken-brained public is a cinch when you can say things you do not mean to achieve what you so desperately want.

Denny: How does bad faith work in politics?
Machine: Bad faith in politics refers to the use of dishonest or manipulative tactics by politicians or political parties to advance their own interests or agendas, often at the expense of the public good. This can take many forms, including:
Lying or spreading misinformation: Politicians may use false or misleading statements to mislead the public or to promote their own interests.
Obstruction or delay: Politicians may engage in tactics designed to obstruct or delay progress on important issues, such as blocking legislation or refusing to cooperate with the opposition party.
Hypocrisy: Politicians may take positions or make promises that they do not genuinely believe in or have no intention of fulfilling, in order to gain support or manipulate public opinion.
Disregarding the rules or laws: Politicians may act in bad faith by ignoring or breaking rules or laws in order to achieve their goals.
Bad faith in politics can have serious consequences, including damaging the public trust and undermining the integrity of the political system. It can also lead to conflicts and disputes, and may be grounds for legal action or other consequences.

The machine's answer is thorough and mostly on point. The part about "damaging the public trust and undermining the integrity of the political system" strikes me not as an unintended consequence of all-consuming bad faith used by the American right, but as a feature, as an overarching goal.

Even folks who were once ardent good-government types have given up – or are quickly giving up – on the idea that the U.S. government in its current form can function properly with one of the nation's two major parties having dispatched with good-faith politics. Even a sliver of good faith on the part of congressional Republicans would have led to Barack Obama seating a third Supreme Court justice after Antonin Scalia went to that big Fox News studio in the sky. Good faith would have prevented the January 6 insurrection. Good faith would have made modern political life far less high stakes, nerdier, and more well adjusted (folks forget that before the early 2000s, only the geekiest of the geeky cared about politics).

Undermining institutions is invaluable for the right wing. Systematically eroding trust in all forms of governance permanently undermines the left's efforts to leverage government for the greater good and creates a power vacuum that can be filled by marauding corporate entities that operate without a shred of accountability.

Take public education: Gutting school system budgets year after year, decade after decade, and rejiggering the law to allow corporate charter schools to receive oceans of taxpayer money kills the public trust in public education and rewards the plutocrats pushing so-called school choice on Americans.

The bad faith steps are quite easy: First, you take away desperately needed money from public schools. Then you point to the failing schools and say, hey, these institutions have failed (the right wing's latest deranged twist on this little game is pointing to struggling public schools and blaming queer teachers who are both bad at their job and quite possibly pedophiles). But don't worry, the right says. We have the solution: Charter school chains where labor unions are illegal and kids will learn what their parents want them to learn. It's an easy formula that can and has been successfully deployed in every corner of the US.

Hollowing out institutions and allowing capitalism to have its way requires a heaping of bad faith because no one really wants a society run by a handful of red-pilled billionaire freaks.

Denny: How does one combat bad faith?
Machine: There are a number of ways to combat bad faith, depending on the context in which it is occurring. Some strategies that may be effective include:
Fact-checking and promoting accurate information: One way to counter bad faith tactics that rely on misinformation or lies is to promote accurate and reliable information. This can involve fact-checking statements made by politicians or other public figures, and sharing accurate information through social media or other channels.
Encouraging transparency and accountability: Making sure that politicians and other public figures are held accountable for their actions can discourage bad faith behavior. This can involve supporting efforts to increase transparency, such as through open records laws, and calling out politicians or other public figures when they act in bad faith.
Engaging in civil discourse: Engaging in respectful and constructive dialogue, rather than resorting to insults or personal attacks, can help to create a more civil and productive political environment.
Supporting organizations and individuals who promote integrity: Supporting organizations and individuals who work to promote honesty and integrity in politics can help to create a culture that values good faith and honesty.
Holding politicians and other public figures accountable: When politicians or other public figures engage in bad faith behavior, it is important to hold them accountable through the appropriate channels. This may involve supporting efforts to recall or impeach politicians who act in bad faith, or supporting legal action against those who break laws or rules.

What ChatGTP didn't say is what accountability might look like. In our rapid descent into full-blown post-democratic fascism, I think the force of law is the only remaining choice in making politicians and pundits think twice about operating in bad faith. Legal action and prison time, as I argued a while back, need to be wielded more freely if we have any chance to snuff out bad actors poisoning our politics. People need to be scared out of their bad faith ways.

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The machine doesn't know that you can't shame the shameless. Its suggestion that open records laws and "calling out" lawmakers acting in bad faith will stop them from using bad faith is laughable. Just imagine Ted Cruz being shamed. Imagine Ron DeSantis feeling one moment of shame for all his lies and half truths. It's impossible. This is why, time and again, I've concluded there's no point in engaging with bad-faith politics. You can't win: Good faith stands no chance in an argument against an argument steeped in bad faith. Honesty cannot beat lies.

The machine's advocating for fact checking only means AI lacks the understanding that there are no longer facts or anything resembling an agreed-upon reality. Tech-driven fragmentation of society and our ever-intensifying alienation has ensured as much. Maybe we can blame the machine for that. It's easier than looking inward.

Follow Denny Carter on Twitter at @CDCarter13.