Ukraine appoints AI avatar as spokesperson

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has appointed an AI-generated digital persona, modeled after a local influencer, to provide consular updates to the media.

Named Victoriya Shi – after “victory” and the Ukrainian abbreviation of “AI” – the avatar is a digital clone of Rosali Nombre, a singer and social media personality, who agreed to have her likeness digitized “pro bono,” according to the ministry.

In what the authorities described as a historical first, Shi’s comments “will appear on the official pages of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, such as its website and social media, and will also be sent to journalists by the press service”

In the first video showcasing the digital spokesperson’s capabilities, both in English and Ukrainian, the avatar said it would provide “timely and high-quality information on consular affairs” to the public and the media.

The increasing reliance on AI technologies for government business in Ukraine is not a “whim,” but rather a “wartime requirement,” the ministry said.

"The use of an AI-generated digital persona for consular comments saves the ministry time and resources. Real diplomats will be able to be more effective and focus on other tasks, such as assisting citizens," Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

The authorities stressed that Viktoriya Shi and the avatar’s real-life prototype are “two different entities” and only the former can make official statements on behalf of the ministry.

To prevent fakes, each official statement made by Sho will feature a QR code leading to a text version of the same comment on the ministry’s website. If such a code is missing or leading to any other website, the video should be deemed inauthentic, the ministry said.

The AI avatar will not replace human representatives, but reflects the broader efforts of the country’s diplomatic service to keep up with technological advances, according to Foreign Minister Kuleba.

"Diplomacy, not only in Ukraine but around the world, has always been a conservative field, last to adopt innovations. We are changing this. Ukrainian diplomacy is now enhancing its capabilities and making a technological leap that no diplomatic service in the world has yet made," the minister said.

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