Democratic congresswoman Yvette D. Clark, from a district in New York, wants more transparency in AI. Specifically, she wants political ads to be transparent about when they use generative AI for, whether it’s conspicuous audio, images, or text.
“The upcoming 2024 election cycle will be the first time in U.S. history where AI-generated content will be used in political ads by campaigns, parties, and Super PACs,” Clarke says in a press release.
“Unfortunately, our current laws have not kept pace with the rapid development of artificial intelligence technologies,” she says.
“If AI-generated content can manipulate and deceive people on a large scale, it can have devastating consequences for our national security and election security.”
Clark is not far from the truth. In the past year, generative AI has reached striking performance and human similarity. In many instances, it’s hard or impossible to tell reality and AI-generated content apart. The recent instances of fake images of Trump being arrested or the Pope wearing a puffy jacket are good examples of that.
The creators of those images labeled the images as AI- generated and they still fooled people. Without those labels, widespread confusion and misinformation become almost a given.
Clark pointed specifically to a GOP campaign against President Biden. The video (see below) showed AI-generated content of China invading Taiwan, crime waves in California, and other crises — a vision of what was to happen if Biden were re-elected, the video says. Campaigns like this could become widespread and less transparent, and they could elevate misinformation to new peaks.
“There will be those who will not want to disclose that it’s AI-generated, and we want to protect against that, particularly when we look at the political season before us,” Clarke tells The Washington Post.
However, whether or not the move will be successful remains to be seen. In a Republican-dominated House, the bill may strike an unpleasant chord. Even if it does somehow get passed, the Senate then has to file its own version of the bill, and the two have to be reconciled and agreed upon until the bill can reach the President’s desk.
Many politicians may see AI as a simple and cheap way to fool voters, and may be reluctant to regulate it. This is exactly why it should be regulated. Current leading AIs have roadblocks in place to prevent disinformation, but those roadblocks can be overcome, and it’s only a matter of time before other, less restrictive options emerge (or existing AIs are leaked)
Regulation is notoriously slow to catch up to pioneering technology, and Clarke’s bill could become a turning point in how the US (and the world) deals with AI content. We’re not really sure whether this bill is the right way to go forward, but it is a way — and right now, we probably need something like this.