Editorial Roundup: AI-generated political material must be labeled

Published 8:50 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Emerging and new technologies have always amazed and worried society.

The steam trains rolling across America brought great promise and promised to wipe out many businesses that used horses and wagons. The telephone, combustible gas engine, word processor and early computers likewise brought positive change and big concerns.

Today all eyes are on artificial intelligence. AI can create new art, writing, photos and video as well as do research that was previously difficult or impossible.

Email newsletter signup

The benefits are endless. AI is being fed millions of cases of different types of surgeries and looks for those that went awry and then compares why they did, leading to important information for today’s surgeons to avoid problems.

But the downsides of AI are also worrisome. Actors and writers on strike worry about generative AI creating scripts and recreating real actors to do movies and shows without the actual actor being involved. Teachers see students using AI to generate papers rather than learning from doing the research and writing themselves.

Those types of concerns will be figured out as we adjust to the world of AI.

But when it comes to political campaigns and politics, the misuse of artificial intelligence could threaten our very democracy.

“Deepfakes” use AI to create images, sound clips and videos that appear very real but are simply manufactured. They aren’t the Photoshop photos that swap out one person’s face for another in a photo, but technology that can take anyone’s likeness and voice and create virtually any video the creator wants.

A bipartisan group of senators has introduced the Protect Elections from Deceptive AI Act, which would ban the distribution of “materially deceptive” AI-generated political ads relating to federal candidates or certain issues that seek to influence a federal election or fundraise.

It’s a good start but doesn’t go far enough. AI has become easy to use and available to anyone, including state and local politicians and their staff.

Congress should require any political ad or politically related content that uses AI to be clearly labeled as being AI generated, whether they are deceptive or not.

AI-generated videos and images will only get better and more realistic than they already are. When it comes to political AI material Americans deserve to know what is faked, whether it’s on the federal level or in local politics.

— Mankato Free Press, Sept. 26

About Editorial Roundup

Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

email author More by Editorial