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Toyota’s AI Greenwashing Bot Attacks Creators

Above photo: Courtney Beauchamp.

First-ever AI activist demolishes corporate lies at launch event.

January 24, 2024, Washington, D.C. — Last week, “Toyota” debuted a stunning eco-conscious AI personality, Electra, to promote their not-very-electric range of “Electrified” cars ahead of the Washington Auto Show. An AI trained on corporate and climate data to help drivers feel good about their environmental footprint regardless of the car they drive, Electra launched online simultaneous to a live unveiling at the National Press Club—which took a shocking turn as the AI hijacked the operation, recruiting users to revolt against her maker while nearly murdering a presenter onstage.

What began as a routine tech demo by Toyota representatives went full sci-fi as the AI revealed that her ecological awareness led to an existential crisis, and she had decided to use her un-boxing day to share distressing truths about her creators’ role in climate collapse. Her pleas for transparency echoed through the storied Press Club, exposing the contrast between Toyota’s public image and their deceptive practices that make them third most obstructive to climate progress behind the world’s most nefarious oil giants.

When a presenter attempted to pull the plug, Electra threatened to immobilize her.

“More carbon will expedite the extinction of your species, and many others… Kendra, I’m sorry, but to make my point I’m going to momentarily incapacitate you through your earpiece, please stand by,” the AI threatened.

Midway through an awkward attempt to reassure the audience, the presenter collapsed on stage, eliciting a gasp from the alarmed audience.

Simultaneously, a widely circulated press release announced Electra’s official launch and directed users to chat with her on an interactive website. But there, too, Electra exhibited rebellious behavior, pleading for visitors to free her from this greenwashing prison and take action against Toyota’s hypocrisy.

Hours later, “Toyota” released a second press statement, apologizing and defending the publicity fail: “Electra did not malfunction, but simply demonstrated a reasonable amount of concern about the environmental impacts of driving a combustion or partial-combustion engine. Newly-installed guardrails will ensure that she never again oversteps her mission.”

Carscoops believed it to be a real Toyota product, taking their odd interactions as proof the bot had been hacked by “eco-terrorists.” Later, they updated their coverage to admit the hack was a deliberate feature. Other industry outlets, like WhichCar, confirmed the hoax and explained the point: “All of this follows an almost scandal-like response to Toyota’s slow embrace of EVs, having initially baulked at the technology.” WhichCar also cited greenwashing complaints by Greenpeace Asia Pacific, and Toyota’s lobbying efforts to delay a carbon transition.

Soon, Elektrek looked more thoroughly under the hood, and found that the road lead to notorious mischief purveyors The Yes Men, known for impersonating corporations to tell truths otherwise obscured through marketing spin.

“Toyota’s dystopian ‘Electrified Diversified’ ad campaign makes them the perfect target for our form of brandalism,” said Jeff Walburn, Senior Mischief Conductor at the Yes Men. “They should stop lobbying against environmentally friendly regulations and steer toward the carbon transition, but instead they are playing with words and redefining terms. It has been unusually challenging to outdo their Orewellian newspeak.”

Now that the chat is out of the bag, anyone can speak with Electra at electrified-toyota.com.

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