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Detroit is the birthplace of the automobile. Detroiters have beamed with pride for generations about the ingenuity and progressiveness of the first automobiles rolling off assembly lines to the countless vehicle features keeping us safe on roadways today.

But things were not always this way. In the early period of American automobile manufacturing, car makers were initially hesitant to include safety features. It took years for federal investigations and finally regulation to require installation of seat belts, and eventually, new technologies like airbags and automatic brakes. Those technological safeguards have saved countless lives.

This situation from our not-too-distant past reminds me of where our country is today with the rapid evolution and widespread use of artificial intelligence (AI). While AI technology presents tremendous opportunities, in its current form, it can be dangerous.

Its sudden rollout should be recognized as an emergency call to governments to act now to protect what remains of the public’s ability to determine when information of political importance is real or fake.

The 2024 presidential race is rapidly approaching, and we aren’t prepared for how new AI models will affect our elections. Fake, AI-generated images of former President Donald Trump resisting arrest provided another fresh example of the fire hose of lies, deception and false information that AI threatens to unleash on our electoral process.

The potential for AI-generated deep-fake videos, text-based chatbots and voice-synthesis technologies to disrupt elections in 2024 is nearly limitless.

Michigan has three statewide elections in 2024, and will likely once again be front and center, playing a critical role in the future of our democracy. This is why bad actors and election deniers will use AI to try to make voting more difficult.

To help combat this, Michiganians now have more voting rights than ever before. This includes automatic registration, same-day registration, and no-reason absentee voting. In addition, the passage of Prop 2 in 2022 introduced at least nine days of early in-person voting, a permanent absentee ballot mailing list, prepaid postage for mailed ballots and applications, ballot tracing information, and more secure absentee ballot drop boxes.

These new rights are guaranteed to every voter under the state constitution. Despite these efforts, however, more must be done to combat the malicious use of AI to alter election outcomes.

I applaud the state’s bipartisan efforts as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently signed legislation that will regulate how AI is used in political ads. Under the legislation, campaigns at both the state and federal level will be required to disclose if political ads airing in Michigan were created using AI.

Recently, Michigan’s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, visited Detroit’s city council, advocating for early voting and keeping officials on alert about possible deceitful tactics as the state heads into what she called “one of the most consequential elections in our state and country’s history.”

No doubt, campaign lies, immense data gathering, and biased algorithms are not new concepts. What is new is the scale at which these tools can now be used to further polarize our society.

AI’s capacity to impersonate people, including public figures, and threaten our national security and public trust is accelerating. Protect yourself and help uphold the integrity of our elections by learning ways to identify deep-fakes and AI in photos and video.

We must get control of AI now to prevent future abuses that have potential to threaten our economy, the 2024 election and our already-all-too-fractured democracy.

Ken Cockrel is a Michigan Advisory Council member for Keep Our Republic.