President Joe Biden’s commerce secretary has declared that she is “very worried” about artificial intelligence (AI) being used in a nefarious manner in regard to U.S. elections, and has revealed that the federal government is working “extensively” on a framework to prevent these issues.
“AI can do amazing things and AI can disrupt our elections, here and around the world,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told reporters Thursday, according to ABC News.
She went on to explain that the Commerce Department is working in partnership with other government agencies and private companies to solve AI-related issues.
“This is a big deal,” Raimondo explained. “This is the largest collection of frontline AI developers, users, researchers and interested groups in the world. In this consortia, which we’re starting off with more than 200 members, we have Fortune 500 companies, academic teams, nonprofit organizations and government agencies joined forces to focus on the research and development necessary to enable safe and trustworthy AI systems.”
This announcement comes as Americans are growing increasingly concerned over the potential use of AI to trick voters on key issues, as it has already been used to create “deep fake” videos and photos of prominent politicians. One such instance involved Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) presidential campaign, which used AI-generated images of former president and current GOP primary frontrunner Donald Trump embracing disgraced former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Dr. Anthony Fauci.
AI was also reportedly used to create a fake robocall sent out on the day of the New Hampshire primary, impersonating Biden and spreading false information about the state’s voting times.
Raimondo also claimed that the government’s framework on AI will help journalists and other Americans understand what information is real and what is fake, noting that AI companies want to do the right thing on this issue.
“Am I worried? Yes,” she told reporters. “Do I think we have the tools to protect our election and our democracy? Yes. Do I feel based on my interactions with the private sector that they want to do the right thing? By and large, Yes. It’s a big threat.”
She went on to state that the U.S. government will “have to stay ahead of trends” related to China and its use of AI, adding that she has been asked often whether AI will “eliminate the human race.”
“We are in charge of how we develop and use and regulate AI, so I feel that way about the election,” Raimondo said. “And it’s on us, right now, to do the right things.”