ORLANDO, Fla. — Misinformation and disinformation are nothing new to politics, but new technology is blurring the lines between fact and fiction.
2024 will be the first election where we see artificial intelligence, or AI, in full force. Experts are calling it a “political super-weapon,” and it’s already popping up in the political arena well ahead of 2024.
“It looks potentially scary. Anybody can have access to this to these applications. In the past, these applications cost a lot of money to use another, basically dirt cheap,” said security studies professor Mark Grzegorzewski of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
Grzegorzewski notes, AI is hardly on the fringes.
Earlier this year, the Republican National Committee created the first known ad completely based on AI imagery. The ad, attacking President Joe Biden, shows a near-apocalyptic America if Biden were re-elected. The ad features AI-generated scenes of explosions in Taiwan, thousands of immigrants flooding the border, and San Francisco on the brink of shutting down from crime and a fentanyl crisis.
Since then, the tech has flourished in the political arena with campaigns cloning not just imagery, but voices in political ads. Never Back Down, a pro-Ron DeSantis super PAC, used an AI version of Donald Trump’s voice in a television ad released in July.
It’s gone beyond ads. AI creators have formed AI text-to-voice generators. AI creators are using AI text-to-voice generators to create a 24/7 debate between AI Joe Biden and AI Donald Trump. The nonstop debate, on video streaming platform Twitch, mimics the voices and mannerisms of the current president and former president.
So, should voters be concerned about AI growing in the political arena? Grzegorzewski says it depends.
“If you are already going to vote Democrat or going to vote Republican, and you see that if you’re on the Republican side, and generative AI is used to take down your Democrat opponent, you’re probably not gonna have any problems with it. Right?” Grzegorzewski said. “If you are in the middle ground that 6 percent, you’re probably watching both sides engaged in this arms race where nobody’s winning, and you’re saying, ‘This is not good for democracy. This is eroding our trust in the political system, eroding trust in each other.’”
Grzegorzewski cautions voters, saying they should be extra skeptical this election cycle.
“[Americans] often just take things that they see on social media at face value. They need to start digging deeper into things spending a little bit more time and actually fact check image the issues with reliable sources,” Grzegorzewski said.
Grzegorzewski says it can be fairly easy to spot AI if you’re looking for it. For example with AI video, skin complexion of an AI-generated person could be blotchy. Another example is awkward blinking.
Google and its platforms like YouTube are trying to get ahead of the advanced technology before the 2024 election is in full swing.
The company announced in September that it will soon require political ads using AI to be paired with a prominent disclosure.
Grzegorzewski calls it a “good first step,” but warns, it may not be enough.
“What happens if a company violates this?” Grzegorzewski said. “There needs to be some sort of teeth to what they’re doing. If a company doesn’t include the statement on there, this was artificially created, there should be some sort of penalty, maybe a financial penalty, kicking them off the platform”
The Federal Election Commission is meeting now to determine if it has the power to regulate artificial intelligence in the political arena. We should know next month if the FEC will take any action.
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