The Chertoff Group

AI-generated disinformation could threaten the 2024 elections

AI-generated deepfakes, or digitally manipulated photos, video and audio have emerged as an influence in politics and have already appeared maliciously in the 2024 election cycle. Election officials around the globe are preparing to respond to disinformation created and spread by AI.

Chertoff Group Executive Chairman and Co-founder Michael Chertoff joined Hillary Clinton, tech executives and election officials last week for a discussion at Columbia University in New York City. The Institute of Global Politics at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs and Aspen Digital sponsored the event. 

With nearly half the world’s population headed to the polls this year, the risk of foreign interference in elections and malicious AI use is high.

Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state and 2016 presidential candidate, said “Anybody who’s not worried is not paying attention.”

AI could be used to disseminate images, audio and videos that misinform voters about their polling place, voting day or how to turn in their ballots. While election disinformation is nothing new, AI tools could spread it faster.

In January, an AI robocall imitating President Biden was used to suppress the vote in the New Hampshire primary. The state Attorney General traced the call to two companies in Texas and investigations are ongoing.   

As a result, the FCC moved to ban robo calls and voting rights groups are urging Congress to crack down on AI generated content.   

Secretary Chertoff said there is a risk of bad actors using AI to discredit the election system. This plays into Russia, China, and other nations’ goals to undermine democracy and sow societal chaos.

Nothing could be more dangerous than an effort to discredit the American election system that’s boosted by AI-powered deepfakes and leaves American voters not knowing what’s real and what’s not, said Secretary Chertoff.

“It would be like pouring gasoline on a fire,” he said.

In February, nearly two dozen tech companies—including Amazon, Google, Microsoft and OpenAI—signed an agreement pledging to prevent the creation and spread of AI-generated disinformation about elections.

Watch the session recording here.

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