State keeping close eye on AI, its potential impact on elections
Our state is taking action in an attempt to make the 2024 election cycle a bit less hectic, if at all possible.
Michigan is joining an effort to curb deceptive uses of artificial intelligence and manipulated media through state-level policies as Congress and the Federal Elections Commission continue to debate more sweeping regulations ahead of the 2024 elections, as reported by The Associated Press.
Campaigns on the state and federal level will be required to clearly say which political advertisements airing in Michigan were created using artificial intelligence under legislation expected to be signed in the coming days by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
It also would prohibit use of AI-generated deepfakes within 90 days of an election without a separate disclosure identifying the media as manipulated.
Deepfakes are fake media that misrepresent someone as doing or saying something they didn’t. They’re created using generative artificial intelligence, a type of AI that can create convincing images, videos or audio clips in seconds.
There are increasing concerns that generative AI will be used in the 2024 presidential race to mislead voters, impersonate candidates and undermine elections on a scale and at a speed not yet seen.
Candidates and committees in the race already are experimenting with the rapidly advancing technology, which in recent years has become cheaper, faster and easier for the public to use.
The Republican National Committee in April released an entirely AI-generated ad meant to show the future of the United States if President Joe Biden is re-elected. Disclosing in small print that it was made with AI, it featured fake but realistic photos showing boarded-up storefronts, armored military patrols in the streets, and huge increases in immigration creating panic.
In July, Never Back Down, a super PAC supporting Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, used an AI voice cloning tool to imitate former President Donald Trump’s voice, making it seem like he narrated a social media post he made despite never saying the statement aloud.
Experts say these are just glimpses of what could ensue if campaigns or outside actors decide to use AI deepfakes in more malicious ways.
So far, states including California, Minnesota, Texas and Washington have passed laws regulating deepfakes in political advertising. Similar legislation has been introduced in Illinois, New Jersey and New York, according to the nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen.
Under Michigan’s legislation, any person, committee or other entity that distributes an advertisement for a candidate would be required to clearly state if it uses generative AI. The disclosure would need to be in the same font size as the majority of the text in print ads, and would need to appear “for at least four seconds in letters that are as large as the majority of any text” in television ads, according to a legislative analysis from the state House Fiscal Agency.
Deepfakes used within 90 days of the election would require a separate disclaimer informing the viewer that the content is manipulated to depict speech or conduct that did not occur. If the media is a video, the disclaimer would need to be clearly visible and appear throughout the video’s entirety.
Campaigns could face a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both for the first violation of the proposed laws. The attorney general or the candidate harmed by the deceptive media could apply to the appropriate circuit court for relief.
Federal law is limited in its ability to regulate AI at the state and local levels, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in an interview, adding that states also need federal funds to tackle the challenges posed by AI.
“All of this is made real if the federal government gave us money to hire someone to just handle AI in our states, and similarly educate voters about how to spot deepfakes and what to do when you find them,” Benson said. “That solves a lot of the problems. We can’t do it on our own.”
Regardless of which side of the aisle you align yourself with, we can all agree that this is a great move for our state. The 2024 election is already shaping up to be a grisly affair, and our state should do whatever it can to limit some of the chaos and misinformation.
Voters have a right to know the truth about the candidates on the ballot, and this move will help to aid that process.