Big Tech promises to prevent AI election-meddling

Twenty major tech companies have vowed to fight the “harmful” uses of AI, including deepfakes

Big Tech promises to prevent AI election-meddling

Industry leaders have pledged to combat uses of artificial intelligence that could “deceive voters”

Twenty major technology companies have vowed to stop misleading AI-generated content from disrupting elections around the globe, with the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Meta, and Google saying they would work to detect and counter deepfakes.

In a press release published on Friday, Microsoft unveiled the new initiative, stating that 20 Big Tech firms would “help prevent deceptive AI content from interfering with this year’s global elections,” which will involve around 4 billion people across 40 nations.

“The ‘Tech Accord to Combat Deceptive Use of AI in 2024 Elections’ is a set of commitments to deploy technology countering harmful AI-generated content meant to deceive voters,” the company said, adding that the “Signatories pledge to work collaboratively on tools to detect and address online distribution of such AI content, drive educational campaigns, and provide transparency, among other concrete steps.”

In addition to Microsoft, the accord also includes social media giants such as X, TikTok, and Meta – which owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp – as well as industry leaders such as Adobe, Amazon, Google, IBM, LinkedIn, McAfee, and OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT.

The firms said they would develop technologies to “mitigate risks related to Deceptive AI Election content,” detect the distribution of such material on social media platforms, work with outside think tanks and civil society groups, and support efforts to “foster public awareness,” among other things.

With the rapid development of AI-generated images, audio, and videos in recent years, deepfakes have become increasingly convincing, and have already entered the political sphere in the 2024 election season. Last month, the New Hampshire attorney general's office said it was investigating robotic phone calls that used an AI-generated voice impersonating President Joe Biden, which told voters to avoid the state’s Democratic primary and stay home.

The New Hampshire AG later described the deceptive calls as “an unlawful attempt to disrupt the New Hampshire Presidential Primary Election and to suppress New Hampshire voters.” It remains unclear who was behind the scheme, however.

Before the launch of the new AI accord on Friday, the text of the pledge was reportedly shared with various world leaders in an effort to coordinate the companies’ actions with officials, according to Politico. However, one unnamed EU diplomat reached by the outlet voiced skepticism for the move, saying some countries “were unsure what to make of it because even if the initiative itself can be encouraged, countries cannot just sign a text from a private company.”