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AI in Politics Is So Much Bigger Than Deepfakes

The Atlantic [read free]: “…Up to this point, much of the attention on AI and elections has focused on deepfakes, and not without reason. The threat—that even something seemingly captured on tape could be false—is immediately comprehensible, genuinely scary, and no longer hypothetical. With better execution, and in a closer race, perhaps something like the fake-Biden robocall would not have been inconsequential. A nightmare scenario doesn’t take imagination: In the final days of Slovakia’s tight national election this past fall, deepfaked audio recordings surfaced of a major candidate discussing plans to rig the vote (and, of all things, double the price of beer). Even so, there’s some reason to be skeptical of the threat. “Deepfakes have been the next big problem coming in the next six months for about four years now,” Joshua Tucker, a co-director of the NYU Center for Social Media and Politics, told me. People freaked out about them before the 2020 election too, then wrote articles about why the threats hadn’t materialized, then kept freaking out about them after. This is in keeping with the media’s general tendency to overhype the threat of efforts to intentionally mislead voters in recent years, Tucker said: Academic research suggests that disinformation may constitute a relatively small proportion of the average American’s news intake, that it’s concentrated among a small minority of people, and that, given how polarized the country already is, it probably doesn’t change many minds. Even so, excessive concern about deepfakes could become a problem of its own. If the first-order worry is that people will get duped, the second-order worry is that the fear of deepfakes will lead people to distrust everything. Researchers call this effect “the liar’s dividend,” and politicians have already tried to cast off unfavorable clips as AI-generated: Last month, Donald Trump falsely claimed that an attack ad had used AI to make him look bad. “Deepfake” could become the “fake news” of 2024, an infrequent but genuine phenomenon that gets co-opted as a means of discrediting the truth. Think of Steve Bannon’s infamous assertion that the way to discredit the media is to “flood the zone with shit.”..

See also The New York Times: Universal Music Group pulled songs from TikTok after licensing negotiations broke down, silencing many videos across the social media platform. The music giant, home to stars like Taylor Swift and Drake, had accused TikTok of offering unsatisfactory payment for music, and of allowing its platform to be “flooded with A.I.-generated recordings.”

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