Quaker stands for MP in July by-election

‘It was totally unplanned. I couldn’t have lived with myself if I didn’t try.’

A Quaker in Yorkshire is standing for election to be an MP, using artificial intelligence (AI) as a way of engaging with the constituency.

Andrew Gray, from Harrogate Meeting, said he decided to be an independent candidate after having a strong calling that felt similar to being inspired to speak ministry in a Quaker Meeting. ‘I had to do it,’ he told the Friend. ‘It was totally unplanned. I couldn’t have lived with myself if I didn’t try.’

The by-election, for Selby and Ainsty constituency, was triggered after its then-MP Nigel Adams announced that he was standing down. The resignation was part of a group of Conservatives plaaning to resign, including Nadine Dorries and Boris Johnson.

Andrew is a non-executive director of an ethical algorithms campaign group. ‘Most people are concerned about AI,’ the Harrogate solicitor said. ‘I am using ethical AI to seek consensus, in order to create my policies. To the best of my knowledge, this has never been done before.’ Polis, the AI system he intends to use, is ‘a very advanced system for gathering, analysing and understanding what large groups of people want,’ he said. ‘It is something that has been used in other countries to help shape politics for the better’, including in Taiwan.

One of thirteen candidates, Andrew Gray said that he will also be standing ‘very clearly as a Quaker’, citing his religious affiliation in his campaign leaflets and website, where he talks about Quaker testimonies. He has also published his tax returns for the last four years on his website, and is focusing on running an ‘optimistic inclusive’ campaign: ‘I’m not criticising a single person or party,’ he said.

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