Advanced artificial intelligence platforms could pose a danger to election security as soon as 2024, with some experts speculating they could become a major source of misinformation.
"We should be scared s---less,"Gary Marcus, professor emeritus of cognitive science at New York University and an AI expert, told Fortune last week.
The comments come just months after a Twitter account named the Chicago Lakefront News posted a photo of Chicago mayoral candidate Paul Vallas along with a faked recording in which Vallas appears to downplay police shootings by arguing that "in my day" police officers would kill as many as 18 people in their career and "no one would bat an eye."
"This ‘Defund the Police’ rhetoric is going to cause unrest and lawlessness in the city of Chicago. We need to stop defunding the police and start refunding them," the recording said.
The tweet was seen by thousands of people, despite it quickly being debunked as a fake recording that was generated by an artificial intelligence platform designed to closely mimic voices. Vallas would eventually lose in a close runoff two months later in April, though the fake recording was not seen as a deciding factor in the race. Nevertheless, Marcus said he believes the technology will play a major role in future elections.
"It is hard to see how AI-generated misinformation will not become a major force in the next election." he told Fortune.
Marcus warned that the technology, referred to as "generative AI," could prove useful for adversaries such as Russia who could use it to target American voters with a flood of misinformation. Research by the Rand Corporation warned of similar concerns, calling such tactics the "firehose of falsehood" that could be fired at voters in the lead up to future elections.
But Chris Meserole, a fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in the impact of AI, downplayed fears that such technologies will play a major role in the 2024 election, arguing the technology is not yet advanced enough to make a large impact.
But Meserole also noted that he could imagine a scenario in which a recording could surface at a pivotal moment of the election that would be difficult for a candidate to prove was fake.
"I don’t think this will completely change the game and 2024 will look significantly different than 2020 or 2016," he told Fortune.