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Business News/ Technology / News/  Major companies join forces to combat AI-generated election interference
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Major companies join forces to combat AI-generated election interference

Major tech companies join forces to combat AI misuse in elections, focusing on deepfakes. Despite being symbolic, the pact aims to detect and label deceptive content. The voluntary agreement emphasizes rapid responses and transparency in company policies to safeguard democratic processes.

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For representation purposes only

In a groundbreaking move, major technology companies have come together to voluntarily adopt measures aimed at preventing the malicious use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools to disrupt democratic elections globally. The pact, announced on Friday at the Munich Security Conference, includes executives from Adobe, Amazon, Google, IBM, Meta, Microsoft, OpenAI, TikTok, and Elon Musk's X, among others.

The framework focuses on addressing the threat posed by AI-generated deepfakes, which can intentionally deceive voters by manipulating images, audio, and video. While the accord is largely symbolic, it marks a significant step towards addressing the growing concern of AI misuse in the political landscape. Twelve additional companies, including chatbot developers Anthropic and Inflection AI, voice-clone startup ElevenLabs, chip designer Arm Holdings, and security companies McAfee and TrendMicro, have also joined the initiative.

Nick Clegg, President of Global Affairs for Meta, emphasized the collective responsibility to address the challenges posed by AI technology. He stated, “Everybody recognizes that no one tech company, no one government, no one civil society organization is able to deal with the advent of this technology and its possible nefarious use on their own."

The accord aims to combat increasingly realistic AI-generated content that alters the appearance, voice, or actions of political candidates and disseminates false information about the electoral process. However, the companies involved are not committing to an outright ban on deepfakes. Instead, the agreement outlines methods for detecting and labeling deceptive AI content, emphasizing swift and proportionate responses when such content begins to spread.

Rachel Orey, Senior Associate Director of the Elections Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, acknowledged the companies' vested interest in preventing their tools from undermining free and fair elections. However, she noted that the voluntary nature of the accord and the vagueness of commitments may leave room for scrutiny.

The agreement encourages platforms to pay attention to context and safeguard various forms of expression, including educational, documentary, artistic, satirical, and political content. It also calls for transparency in company policies and aims to educate the public on recognizing and avoiding AI-generated fakes.

The announcement comes at a crucial time, with over 50 countries scheduled to hold national elections in 2024. Recent instances of AI-generated election interference, such as robocalls mimicking U.S. President Joe Biden's voice and AI-generated audio recordings impersonating political candidates, highlight the urgency of addressing this issue.

Despite the positive reception of the accord, some advocates express reservations about its effectiveness. Lisa Gilbert, Executive Vice President of the advocacy group Public Citizen, argued that the agreement falls short and urged AI companies to withhold technologies like hyper-realistic text-to-video generators until adequate safeguards are in place.

The absence of binding requirements and the voluntary nature of the accord may raise questions about its impact. However, European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova praised the agreement for containing impactful and positive elements, emphasizing the need for politicians to avoid deceptive use of AI tools to prevent the erosion of democracy.

As the world faces an increasing number of elections, the technology industry's commitment to addressing the challenges posed by AI-generated deepfakes is seen as a significant, albeit voluntary, step towards safeguarding the integrity of democratic processes.

(With inputs from AP)

 

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Published: 17 Feb 2024, 01:16 PM IST
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