April 16, 2024

Tech Giants Vow To Keep AI Away From Elections

On Friday, 20 tech companies vowed to prevent AI from interfering with the upcoming elections this year.

These companies together signed an accord known as The Tech Accord to Combat Deceptive Use of AI in 2024 Elections at the Munich Security Conference.

The group includes companies that are developing AI tools such as OpenAI, Microsoft, and Adobe as well as social media platforms such as Meta and TikTok where these manipulated videos and images are often distributed.

In the words of the signatories of the accord, they will tackle content that “deceptively fakes or alters the appearance, voice, or actions” of the candidates of the elections.

The reason why this issue has gained so much focus this year is because it is estimated that more than 4 billion people will cast votes across 40+ nations. The UK, the US, and India will all have major elections in 2024.

Also, this year the elections coincide with the massive growth of the AI industry. It’s only recently that advanced AI tools were available to the masses and we have already noticed how they are being misused.

For example, an edited video was circulated last year that showed Joe Biden inappropriately touching his adult granddaughter.

The video was obviously not true but was manipulated to show the president in a bad light. Incidents like these could have a direct impact on the elections, making them biased.

Content that misguides voters about the voting process and requirements will also be removed. Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft even said that they’ll take it on themselves to ensure that the tools that are developed to help the people aren’t weaponized during the elections.

The participating companies have agreed to 8 primary commitments of the accord which include spreading public awareness and increasing media literacy, developing tools to reduce the risk of deceptive content creation through AI, taking action on every fake content they find, and so on.

How they are going to fulfill these commitments is yet unknown. We also don’t know the timeline of the initiatives they are planning to take as of now. Hopefully, we’ll have another update before the elections commence.

What Do The People Think About This Accord?

While the fact that these tech giants are acknowledging the risks posed by AI is commendable, the steps they have taken to tackle the issue have received mixed reactions.

Some industry experts are also of the opinion that it won’t do much good. For example, computer scientist Dr Deepak Padmanabhan from Queen’s University Belfast (co-author of a paper on elections and AI) said that for the elections to be actually unbiased, the accord needs to take direct steps instead of waiting for fake content to show up on their platform.

If that’s the approach they follow, realistic AI edits will be detected much later than bad edits and the damage will already be done by then.

But nonetheless, it’s an important step because according to US Deputy Attorney General, Lisa Monaco, this year’s elections are very likely to be tampered with through misinformation, thanks to AI.

Both Meta and Google previously addressed the issue of AI meddling with elections and set a policy that requires advertisers to flag when using content manipulated by AI.

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