Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning , Government , Industry Specific

OpenAI Combats Election Misinformation Amid Growing Concerns

ChatGPT Maker Wants to Deter Use of AI in Online Election Misinformation Campaigns
OpenAI Combats Election Misinformation Amid Growing Concerns
OpenAI on Monday announced steps it will take to combat election misinformation in 2024. (Image: Shutterstock)

ChatGPT maker OpenAI is racing to deter the use of its artificial intelligence models to spread election misinformation as lawmakers warn of increased threats from online influence campaigns throughout the 2024 voting cycle.

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The AI powerhouse announced in a Monday blog post a series of steps it will take to improve user access to authoritative voting information and prevent the use of ChatGPT to discourage people from voting.

"We expect and aim for people to use our tools safely and responsibly, and elections are no different," the post says. The company detailed how it has restricted users from building applications for political campaigning and lobbying and from creating chatbots that can impersonate real-life candidates, political institutions or local governments.

The announcement comes amid increasing fears that political deepfakes and AI-generated election misinformation could significantly disrupt democracy. A majority of election leaders in the United States are most concerned about threats to election security stemming from disinformation campaigns, which can be significantly more effective with the help of generative AI tools, according to a January survey of more than 130 state and local government officials conducted by the Center for Digital Government.

More than 45 countries are set to cast votes this year, including the United States, the European Union and likely the United Kingdom. The World Economic Forum calculates elections held this year will determine leadership in countries that produce more than half of the world's gross domestic product (see: Generative AI Concerns Grow in Record Election Year).

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, wrote a letter to Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, urging her to recommit to addressing critical election threats, including both foreign and online influence operations.

The letter stated that election threats have continued to grow in recent years and now include "a wider array of foreign actors" and "a larger number of social media platforms suitable for influence activity."

OpenAI said it has been experimenting with several new tools that can "empower voters to assess an image with trust and confidence in how it was made." The company plans to implement a new approach this year created by the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity to embed digital credentials in content created by its image generation tool, DALL·E 3.

Users can also report potential violations to OpenAI, which said in the blog post that it will be releasing a new tool for detecting images generated by DALL·E to an initial subset of testers - including journalists, researchers and other platforms - for feedback.

The company said it has been working with the nonpartisan U.S. National Association of Secretaries of State and plans to direct users to the Can I Vote website when asked specific questions about voting and the 2024 election.

"As we prepare for elections in 2024 across the world's largest democracies, our approach is to continue our platform safety work by elevating accurate voting information, enforcing measured policies, and improving transparency," the post says.

Five American states have already enacted laws regulating the use of deepfakes in elections, and similar bills are making their way through legislative houses in at least 18 other states, according to tracking information from the nonprofit organization Public Citizen.


About the Author

Chris Riotta

Chris Riotta

Managing Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Riotta is a journalist based in Washington, D.C. He earned his master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he served as 2021 class president. His reporting has appeared in NBC News, Nextgov/FCW, Newsweek Magazine, The Independent and more.




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