Experts warn of AI impact on elections

Declining social media guardrails and the proliferation of AI tools, particularly generative AI, highlight the high probability of misinformation spreading, risking US election integrity in 2024.

Woman votes on election day.

The false election conspiracy theories that drove rioters to storm the US Capitol nearly three years ago are still fresh in the minds of US election officials. With the advent of the November 2024 US presidential elections, legitimate fears regarding false narratives are stirring up trouble again. The rampant availability and increasing sophistication of AI tools is anticipated to only add to the information uncertainty.

Furthermore, with lax content regulations by social media companies, possibly bolstered by the ideology behind Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, people are warning of the possibility of a ‘tsunami of misinformation’ this election cycle. The Federal Election Commission and the US Congress are ramping up efforts to regulate the technology, though nothing has been finalised yet. Many states and certain social media companies, like YouTube, have introduced laws to protect election officials and strict AI-data-labelling measures. However, their efficacy remains to be seen.

Why does this matter?

The integrity of democracy and voter trust in a country depends on the informed and free choice of the country’s citizens to elect their government. The convergence of AI deepfakes and weakened social media content policies seriously undermines this foundation. Misinformation does not only erode trust in the democratic electoral system but may even cause violence and destabilisation in a country. The outcome of the US presidential election will be pivotal, as it would not only determine crucial domestic policies but also US foreign policy about important countries like Ukraine and Taiwan, and thus impact the future of the world order.

2024 is crucial for democracy worldwide, with 50 countries and more than 2 billion people headed for elections in the coming year. AI deepfakes increasingly threaten electoral integrity in many countries. 2024 will be a significant test of the strength of democratic institutions worldwide.