The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in elections has reached a critical juncture, as the Federal Election Commission (FEC) decided against implementing regulations on “deepfake” political ads for the upcoming 2024 election. This decision has raised alarms and ignited debates about the potential consequences of an “AI arms race” in campaigns.
The Challenge of Drawing the Line
With no new regulations in place, campaigns are left to determine their own ethical standards regarding AI use. While free speech must be protected, the absence of clear guidelines offers an opportunity for campaigns to establish shared ethical norms. However, finding the right balance and defining these standards is no easy task.
Controversy Surrounding AI in Campaigns
The collaboration between Maybelline and Ryan Vita, a bearded cross-dresser promoting their lipstick, is not an isolated incident. Past elections have seen clean campaign pledges and debates regulated through the Commission on Presidential Debates. Yet, these attempts at establishing rules have often been met with controversy and differing opinions.
Campaigns Negotiating AI Rules
Political campaigns must now navigate the uncharted territory of AI regulations, negotiating rules such as content labeling and targeted ads. The agreements reached could set a precedent for future campaigns, shaping the landscape of presidential elections and other political contests.
Compliance and Political Capital
Campaigns that adhere to agreed-upon rules can tout their ethical use of AI as a selling point. On the other hand, rival campaigns can gain political advantage by calling out violations of these rules. The question remains whether the potential gain from rule violations outweighs the political ammunition it provides to opponents.
The Role of Voters
If campaigns fail to agree on or adhere to AI limitations, the responsibility falls on voters to critically evaluate campaign marketing. Third-party content labeling may aid readers in identifying AI-generated content, but even limited exposure to misinformation can be challenging to correct and perpetuates belief in similar falsehoods.
Challenges Beyond AI
AI’s impact extends beyond elections, enabling rapid content alteration and targeting. It has revolutionized various industries, from Hollywood to writing apps like ChatGPT. While AI can streamline processes and reduce costs, accuracy issues and the potential for manipulation remain concerns.
Public Opinion as a Deterrent
Ultimately, the power of public opinion serves as the most effective deterrent against unethical AI use. Voter backlash, as witnessed in previous campaign decorum violations, can shape candidates’ behavior and discourage desperate attempts to exploit AI for personal gain.
The Future of Democracy
The use of AI in politics demands careful consideration and finding a delicate balance. Our choices today will shape the integrity of democratic processes and political discourse for future generations. It is crucial to leverage AI to deliver legitimate information and messages to voters without confusing or manipulating them.
We must approach AI in politics with caution, ensuring that technology serves democracy rather than jeopardizing it.