OpenAI, Meta and other tech giants sign effort to fight AI election interference

February 19, 2024 - 10:59 AM
US_presidential primarly election
Volunteers watch for voters to arrive shortly after the polls open as Democrats and Republicans hold their presidential primary election in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., February 6, 2024 (Reuters/Ronda Churchill/File Photo)

A group of 20 tech companies announced on Friday they have agreed to work together to prevent deceptive artificial-intelligence content from interfering with elections across the globe this year.

The rapid growth of generative artificial intelligence (AI), which can create text, images and video in seconds in response to prompts, has heightened fears that the new technology could be used to sway major elections this year, as more than half of the world’s population is set to head to the polls.

Signatories of the tech accord, which was announced at the Munich Security Conference, include companies that are building generative AI models used to create content, including OpenAI, Microsoft and Adobe. Other signatories include social media platforms that will face the challenge of keeping harmful content off their sites, such as Meta Platforms, TikTok and X, formerly known as Twitter.

The agreement includes commitments to collaborate on developing tools for detecting misleading AI-generated images, video and audio, creating public awareness campaigns to educate voters on deceptive content and taking action on such content on their services.

Technology to identify AI-generated content or certify its origin could include watermarking or embedding metadata, the companies said.

The accord did not specify a timeline for meeting the commitments or how each company would implement them.

“I think the utility of this (accord) is the breadth of the companies signing up to it,” said Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Meta Platforms.

“It’s all good and well if individual platforms develop new policies of detection, provenance, labeling, watermarking and so on, but unless there is a wider commitment to do so in a shared interoperable way, we’re going to be stuck with a hodgepodge of different commitments,” Clegg said.

Generative AI is already being used to influence politics and even convince people not to vote.

In January, a robocall using fake audio of U.S. President Joe Biden circulated to New Hampshire voters, urging them to stay home during the state’s presidential primary election.

Despite the popularity of text-generation tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, the tech companies will focus on preventing harmful effects of AI photos, videos and audio, partly because people tend to have more skepticism with text, said Dana Rao, Adobe’s chief trust officer, in an interview.

“There’s an emotional connection to audio, video and images,” he said. “Your brain is wired to believe that kind of media.”

— Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas and Katie Paul in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis