“If you ever injected truth into politics, you’d have no politics” – Will Rogers
The 2024 presidential election is already heating up and It promises to be a scorcher. The United States has never been more ununited and pundits are saying this election will be the most contentious in history – not to mention the most expensive. The gloves are already off. Candidates are taking swings at each other, and there’s still a year and a half to go.
Lies, half-truths, misinformation, and voter fraud have always been part of politics. Franklin Roosevelt told Americans in 1940 that “your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”
JFK declared in 1961: “I have previously stated that the United States plans no military intervention in Cuba.” All the while, he was planning the Bay of Pigs invasion. Nixon lied about Watergate, In 2013, Barack Obama told Americans that they could keep their health insurance if they wanted to. The list goes on – politicians lying to the American public is as American as a rotten apple pie.
Elections are even worse. This is when outright dishonesty reaches a whole new level. Millions are spent on opposition research – and If you can’t find any dirt on your opponent, you lie.
Today, technology has turned mudslinging into an art form. Biased news organizations spread disinformation from unnamed sources. Social media platforms post fake news through “circular reporting”, where one source publishes misinformation that is picked up by another news outlet, who cites the original source as evidence that the information is accurate. Now, when you add artificial intelligence (AI) to the mix, it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire.
Brookings Institute says, “Advances in digital technology provide new and faster tools for political messaging and could have a profound impact on how voters, politicians, and reporters see the candidates and the campaign.
“We are no longer talking about photoshopping small tweaks to how a person looks or putting someone’s head on another individual’s body, but rather moving to an era where wholesale digital creation and dissemination are going to take place. We are going to face a Wild West of campaign claims and counterclaims, with limited ability to distinguish fake from real material and uncertainty regarding how these appeals will affect the election.”
How AI Will Impact The 2024 Election
Deepfakes will be the most common form of AI designed to mislead voters. These are videos of people that have been digitally altered so they appear to be someone else, typically used maliciously to spread false information.
There were many deepfake warnings during the 2020 election. Researchers warned that deepfake videos could disrupt the 2020 vote. One video was edited to make it look like Joe Biden had greeted Floridians as Minnesotans. As it turned out, there were many other election problems but deepfakes weren’t one of them.
Deepfakes promise to be more troubling during the 2024 election. A recent example is the fake AI-generated image of former president Donald Trump being arrested and taken to jail that was shared on social media.
As deepfakes get more sophisticated, like It or not, voters must sift through pages of political information for accuracy.
BOTS AND POLLS
The emergence of ChatGPT has caused considerable alarm in politics. This bot can actually simulate a politician’s voice, have the deepfake politician call a voter, and ask for a donation or a vote. The bot can also give people false information. This can be done thousands even millions of times with robocalls.
Chatbots can also influence polls. Researchers at MIT are attempting to build political chatbots that can respond just like their human counterparts. A successful implementation might allow political campaigns to influence opinion among voters.
The application of AI is already being tested for possible uses in the 2024 presidential campaign, with AI-generated fundraising emails, text messages from chatbots and fake endorsements urging you how to vote. Future candidates could use chatbots trained on data representing their views to determine who you should vote for. All this could alter polling.
Donald Trump claimed he invented the term “fake news” in 2017. However, BuzzFeed News Editor Craig Silverman said he started using the term back in 2014. Buzzfeed News has since gone bankrupt, so who knows – Silverman might have been spreading fake news.
Fake news is defined as false information, often of a sensational nature, created to be widely shared or distributed for promoting or discrediting a public figure, or political movement.
AI can be a useful tool for spotting online propaganda – but it can also be used for creating misleading material or “fake news.” Fake news can be generated with deepfakes, circular reporting, chatbots and more. Undoubtedly, AI will be creating and disseminating fake news during the 2024 presidential election.
SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION
Fact checkers will be needed to ensure that facts are true, but what if the
fact checkers are fake? The latest weapon in the disinformation war are fake fact checkers. This has already been seen in the Ukrainian War, and according to the New York Post, George Soros has had success across the Atlantic using fact-checkers to censor narratives damaging to the left.
What makes the coming election particularly worrisome is the lack of guardrails or disclosure requirements that protect voters against fake news, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and false narratives.
Since campaign speech is protected, candidates can say and do pretty much whatever they want without the risk of legal reprisal. Even if their claims are false, judges have long upheld candidate rights to speak freely and falsely. Defamation lawsuits like Fox News-Dominion earlier this year are rare and only work with well-funded litigants.
We’ve just scratched the surface. Since the election has moved from the real world to the digital world, the battle for your vote in the upcoming election could reach a boiling point.
AI applications can be used for good and bad. We here at the Email List Company hope this technology will only be used for good. But will AI restore truth and honesty to politics? That will be a cold day in hell.