Democracy is unprepared for the 'AI deluge' and a 'tsunami' of 'automated disinformation': report
The Republican National Committee (RNC) inspired a combination of mockery and scathing criticism when it responded to President Joe Biden's reelection campaign announcement with a melodramatic, over-the-top attack ad that used artificial intelligence (AI) software to create dystopian images depicting what GOP operatives claim a second Biden term would look like.
In the late April ad, ominous music played while the RNC predicted banks collapsing, Mainland China invading Taiwan and an invasion of illegal immigrants if Biden is reelected. The AI-generated images were designed to terrify viewers into voting Republican.
The ad's critics — a combination of Democrats, liberals, progressives and right-wing Never Trump conservatives — slammed it for using fake computer-generated images when the United States has so many real problems to contend with. But the fact that an attack ad is silly doesn't mean that it can't be effective, and defenders of democracy have been warning that AI technology poses a major threat to the democratic process.
READ MORE: 'I’m worried': Harvard professor explains why AI technology could imperil democracy in the future
Journalist Ryan Heath addresses that threat in an article published by Axios on May 11.
"AI-generated content is emerging as a disruptive political force just as nations around the world are gearing up for a rare convergence of election cycles in 2024," Heath reports. "Why it matters: Around one billion voters will head to polls in 2024 across the U.S., India, the European Union, the U.K. and Indonesia, plus Russia — but neither AI companies nor governments have put matching election protections in place."
According to Heath, the "AI deluge" could "could upend 2024 elections via": (1) "fundraising scams," (2) "a microtargeting tsunami," and (3) "incendiary emotional fuel."
Allie Funk, who specializes in tech challenges at Freedom House, warned Axios that AI technology "will lower the barrier of entry for shady companies" and is a recipe for widespread "automated disinformation."
READ MORE: RNC roasted over 'very weird choice' to use AI in first video response to Biden’s 2024 announcement
Tech and elections consultant Katie Harbath told Axios that from an AI standpoint, "The 2024 election is going to be exponentially more challenging than…. 2020 and 2016…. Election plans cannot be spun up in days or weeks. Work should start 18 months to 24 months ahead of Election Day."
Heath isn't the first Axios reporter to address AI's ability to influence elections.
Axios' Alex Thompson, in an April 25 Twitter thread, observed, "AI-generated images are disrupting art, journalism, and now politics. The 2024 election is poised to be the first election with ads full of images generated by modern Artificial Intelligence software."
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Read Axios' full report at this link.
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