Joaquin Oliver, killed at age 17 in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, never got the chance to vote. So nonprofit advocacy group Change the Ref found a heartbreaking and powerful use of AI, creating a deepfake video of Joaquin to encourage others to vote on his behalf.
Joaquin, unapologetically outraged at how little has been done to stem gun violence, exhorts people to vote for politicians who value human life over contributions from the gun lobby. And it didn’t waste a bit of its shock value, steering viewers to unfinishedvotes.com.
There, people could replace his vote and those of other gun violence victims. Once people pledged their vote for a victim, the entire experience and social content became personalized with that victim’s story. You could even upload your own lost loved one to the site.
The idea behind the campaign, which awed our judges with its innovative use of tech, is simple arithmetic. With Michigan’s 2016 vote decided by 10,704 votes, Nevada’s by 27,202 and New Hampshire’s by 2,736, it hoped people voting on behalf of the 40,000 people lost to gun violence each year could have a genuine impact.
That impact was vast. The film got 2.4 million views in its first 24 hours, global broadcast news coverage and became the No. 1 trending topic on Fox News. President Joe Biden sent a personal video message. And on Valentine’s Day, the 3rd anniversary of the Parkland Shooting, President Biden announced demands for commonsense gun law reforms.