April 18, 2024

A group of 20 of the world’s leading technology companies announced an essential agreement on Friday, February 16.

This agreement is that they would work collectively to prevent the spread of deceptive artificially intelligent (AI) content aimed at interfering with primary elections globally in 2024. 

Notably, over 50 percent of the global population is headed to the polls this year as democracy faces increased threats.

As such, this collaboration comes at a critical juncture given that generative AI that can create highly realistic fake media content in mere seconds has continued to spread with rapid development and deployment.

Among the signatories spanning key industry players are companies at the forefront of building the most powerful and prominent generative AI models

These include OpenAI, which developed ChatGPT and DALL-E; Microsoft, which recently invested billions in OpenAI; and creative software leader Adobe. 

Additionally, dominant social media platforms where misinformation could spread widely and influence public opinion have signed onto the effort. 

These include Meta, which operates Facebook and Instagram; viral video platform TikTok; and X (formerly Twitter) – online sites where elections can potentially be manipulated through carefully targeted media and messages. 

With trust in democracy wavering and turnout threatened by disinformation campaigns, social platforms recognizing risks and joining forces are pivotal.

Specific commitments include collaborating across companies on developing powerful technological tools to detect synthetic AI media, including generated images, video, and audio files. 

Additionally, appropriately labeling the provenance of AI content distributed on signatories’ platforms through techniques like digital watermarking could help curb deception and make clear when videos, images, or audio were artificially created rather than real.

Further commitments include launching public awareness campaigns to educate citizens on the existence and capabilities of generative AI to inoculate against manipulationCompanies also promised to act directly against their platforms’ demonstrably false or harmful AI content. 

Clear implementation roadmaps were not detailed, but the breadth of participation lends momentum.

The initial focus is on visual and audio media rather than text, given the higher potential impact of false information with strong emotional resonance at scale. 

Recent examples include an AI-generated fake audio robocall mimicking President Biden’s voice that spread rapidly in US campaigning, aimed at discouraging voter turnout, demonstrating risks. 

As people are evolutionarily wired to more readily believe what they can see or hear, safeguards are urgently required. Based on that, President of Global Affairs at Meta, Nick Clegg, stated that the uniform policies on provenance, labeling, and detection internationally across platforms will be essential to avoid a “hodgepodge” patchwork approach. 

He noted that Individual companies acting alone cannot address systemic threats.

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