And how to watch out for deep fakes that target you – and only you
Ric Edelman: It's Tuesday, October 17th. Oh my goodness. The election is only one year away. Are you worried? Well, what exactly are you worried about? I'll tell you what I'm worried about. I'm worried about all the ads I'm going to be getting bombarded with for the next year. Well, okay. I'm not really worried about all that. Maybe you're worried that your candidate will lose. Or maybe you're worried because you don't even like any of the candidates.
Well, here's another worry. If you don't have enough already, are you worried that AI is going to disrupt the elections with artificial intelligence? We can make people look like they're saying things that in fact, they've never said. I did a show earlier this year. Maybe you remember it, where the entire show was written by AI and it was also performed by AI. The software replicated my voice. You couldn't tell that it wasn't me. My producer couldn't tell. My wife couldn't tell. Well, at least Jean couldn't tell at first.
That was last winter when I did that, when ChatGPT was still new. Now the tech can make videos of people, not just audios that are entirely made up. It's called deepfake, and you can't tell that it's really not the president declaring nuclear war.
Now just imagine what this tech will be able to do a year from now, right as we're about to vote. It's all about disinformation. If I can't win the election, then I'm going to do everything I can to make sure you lose it.
The AI can do three things. It can send info to tens of millions of people, and if enough of them hear the fake message, maybe enough of them will fall for it to change their votes and change the outcome of the election. AI is also super realistic. The deepfake audios and videos and photos could again change the election outcome. And finally, AI can be used for Micro-targeting. You could get messaging that's crafted just for you, with personal details that make it look like it really came from someone you know. Instead of one message going to 100 million people, it's 100 million messages, each going to just one person.
Pretty soon, we'll all be trained to doubt and distrust everything and everyone. How can you reliably cast a vote in that environment? Is the election really going to be as scary as all this? Is democracy doomed? I don't think so. And I really do believe that you can relax. I think you already know if you're going to vote for Joe Biden or Donald Trump. I can't imagine you getting any email or text or video that's going to change your mind.
And while troublemakers will be using AI to try to trick you, the real candidates along with their PACs and the RNC and the DNC, they'll all be using AI to send you real messages and to alert you to the fakes, and the media will be there as well to help us keep the information legit. Although, yeah, some of them will be biased and one-sided too.
Let's keep in mind that there's been fraud in politics for as long as there's been politics. Remember Joseph Kennedy, JFK's father, who famously said, “Don't buy a single vote more than necessary. I'll be damned if I'm going to pay for a landslide.” Or at least supposedly that's what he said.
See my point? We're not sure, are we? So relax. Academic research shows that we are all so accustomed to being bombarded with claims and counterclaims that were pretty much impervious to persuasion. 25 elections have been held since ChatGPT emerged, and a study by Dartmouth says there's evidence that deepfakes did not make any difference in any of those elections. Harvard studied the 2016 election and found out that Russia sent 80,000 posts that were seen by 126 million Americans, half of all voters. But a study of that data by Stanford found that it shifted votes by just hundredths of a single percentage point. The bottom line is this it costs money to create and distribute all these deepfakes. So that suggests that whichever candidate has the most money is going to win the election. What's new about that?
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