The US is worried that advances in generative AI could influence elections.
The electoral process in the country has always been shrouded in a certain veil of mystery, made denser by various scandals and conspiracy theories. After the 2016 US presidential election, social media was accused of spreading misinformation; four years later, the 2020 election was peppered with conspiracy theories and claims of fraud. So what will the coming political season reveal?
The new political trend seems to coincide with the global one — advances in the field of AI. Experts predict them to play a major role in the electoral spectacle. It is assumed that they can be used to spread disinformation, and on an even larger scale.
The British newspaper The Guardian quotes Ben Winters, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, on the impact of artificial intelligence on the information environment in general. This is a non-profit organization that conducts research in the field of privacy.
“Trust will decrease, the work of journalists and others trying to disseminate relevant information will become more difficult,” Winters said, adding that from his perspective, “this is not going to have a positive impact on the information ecosystem.”
Indeed, artificial intelligence tools that can create photorealistic images, mimic the sound of a voice, and write compelling “human” text are increasingly being used to create political content.
Just look at the AI’s depiction of the Pentagon bombing, which caused a short-lived stock market downturn! Another example — AI audio parodies of U.S. presidents playing video games and neural network-generated images of Donald Trump fighting off police officers who are trying to arrest him have spread widely on social media and become a viral trend. And the Republican National Committee even released a fully AI-generated ad showing images of various imaginary disasters that would happen if President Biden were re-elected.
All of the examples also cited by The Guardian are real tools of political struggle in which virality of content is crucial.
Yes, all these pictures and advertisements have been seen before, but technology has given them a new impetus: creating content aimed at users was incredibly time-consuming, requiring the use of special graphic and video editors. However, now generative AI has made the creation of such content accessible to anyone with at least basic digital skills.
Of course, as is customary in the US to explain political blunders, experts are already warning that such technology will give foreign countries new opportunities to influence US elections.
Nevertheless, there has always been fake content, and, yes, technology is often used in political battles, most often by American government agencies. More important is who will be credited with influencing the electoral process this time. What theory will the American establishment choose next year to intimidate its voters. Russian hackers? China? Maybe a tandem of the two? We’ll find out soon enough.
Hype aside, we can identify a common problem: artificial intelligence is indeed further polluting the world’s long-suffering information space and blurring the focus of attention of users and authors alike.
If we take a broader view, politics is not the only area of concern because of the widespread and often uncontrolled use of artificial intelligence.
For example, AI instantly posts believable reviews regarding hotels, restaurants and cafes. Fake feedback has been around for a long time, and in the English-speaking segment, fake reviews are often not hard to spot by their garbled English and lack of specific facts about a place.
Reviews generated by AI are increasingly difficult to distinguish from those written by an ordinary traveler or cafe visitor. Until recently, the business of distributing fake reviews was mainly focused on online sweatshops. These were organizations that paid people to write reviews to boost a company’s rating.
Now artificial intelligence can easily help an individual or certain forces to achieve their goals, while leaving a minimum of traces.
But, as it is not trivial, we should not forget that there are people at the other end of the monitor, and it is they, not the AI, who make decisions. It seems that this is what is causing the White House’s perennial fury. It is increasingly difficult to play behind-the-scenes games when the media effect of a Twitter post or a viral picture is many times greater than that of another official statement.
There is no doubt that the current American authorities are also working with AI technologies, for example, the Pentagon structure is already mastering the dipfake technology (GEOFOR wrote about this story earlier), but the simplicity of the technology multiplies the resources of the opponents of the current American authorities. It’s the new comic books and the new Hollywood, but cheaper and faster.
And, unlike the old Hollywood, the new one now works not for the United States in general, and not for the state apparatus in particular, but against them, bringing to the surface all the dirty laundry and ridiculing the very strange political decisions and situations that the current American government allows in abundance. So, to paraphrase, there’s nothing to blame on artificial intelligence if you give reasons for it.