In this crazy world we live in, people are getting more and more concerned about the impact of artificial intelligence on our elections. And I’m not just talking about your regular old misinformation, I’m talking about AI-powered tools that can target specific political groups, create convincing fake images and videos, and spread falsehoods at an unprecedented scale. It’s like we’re heading towards a perfect storm of deception.
Just take a look at this recent poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. It found that a whopping 58% of adults in the U.S. believe that AI tools are going to increase the spread of false and misleading information in the upcoming presidential election. Only a measly 6% think it’ll actually decrease the spread, while the rest don’t think it’ll make much of a difference.
One woman from Fort Worth, Texas, Rosa Rangel, is seriously worried about this AI invasion. She saw a whole bunch of lies on social media during the 2020 election, and now she’s all like, “AI is gonna make things even worse in 2024, it’s like a pot that’s gonna boil over.” And she’s not alone in her concerns.
But here’s the kicker: despite all this worry, most Americans have very little experience with AI tools. Only 30% have actually used AI chatbots or image generators, and less than half have even heard much about AI. Yet, despite their lack of firsthand experience, there’s a general consensus that using AI in certain ways during campaigns is a big no-no.
For instance, the majority of adults, both Republicans and Democrats, believe it’s bad for candidates to create false or misleading media for political ads, edit or touch-up photos or videos for political ads, tailor political ads to individual voters, or answer voters’ questions via chatbot. They basically want these candidates to campaign on their own merits, not their ability to deceive.
And it’s not just regular folks who are skeptical, politicians themselves have been using AI in shady ways. In the 2020 election, the Republican National Committee released an entirely AI-generated ad that showed a dystopian future if Joe Biden got reelected. It had all these fake but super realistic-looking images that made it seem like chaos was erupting. Sure, they had a tiny disclaimer saying it was AI-generated, but come on, that’s like whispering the truth amidst a sea of lies.
Then there’s Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, who used AI-generated images to make it look like former President Donald Trump was hugging Dr. Anthony Fauci. These politicians are playing a dangerous game, trying to strike fear into the hearts of voters instead of campaigning on real issues.
Now, there are some folks who are actually in favor of AI, but only when it comes to its potential for the economy and society. Like this college student, Thomas Besgen, who loves using AI tools to help him with history topics and to imagine what sports stadiums might look like in the future. But even he draws the line when AI is used to create deepfake ads or spread false information. And I gotta say, morally, that’s just wrong.
You see, folks, Americans are skeptical creatures. They’re not so quick to trust AI chatbots or the information they spew out. In fact, just 5% of adults say they’re extremely or very confident that the information from these chatbots is factual. Most folks prefer to consult traditional sources like news media, friends and family, and even social media when it comes to getting information about the presidential election.
But hey, even though AI might not be their go-to source, Americans still feel like everyone has a responsibility to prevent the spread of AI-generated falsehoods in the 2024 election. A majority believe that technology companies, the news media, social media companies, and the federal government all have a lot of responsibility in this matter.
So, my friends, it seems like we’re stuck in a difficult position. AI is advancing at a rapid pace, threatening to amplify misinformation in our elections like never before. But people are waking up to the dangers and demanding accountability. Will the powers that be listen? Only time will tell.