Citizens making informed decisions during our elections is a bedrock of our democracy. But disinformation today poses an ever-growing threat to our democracy. False information has the power to distort facts, erode trust and undermine transparency in our electoral process. With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), disinformation can now be amplified and spread more effectively than ever before.
As Wisconsin gears up to once again be a battleground state in the upcoming election, we find ourselves more vulnerable than ever to AI-driven disinformation campaigns.
The rapid proliferation of these campaigns presents a significant challenge to our democratic ideals. These new AI algorithms have the capability to generate and disseminate false narratives, images and videos, creating confusion and division among the electorate.
Recent examples include the AI-generated images of Taylor Swift and the deep fake robocall of President Joe Biden, which some voters received in New Hampshire. AI-generated content can impersonate legitimate sources, manipulate images and videos, and exploit vulnerabilities in our information ecosystem.
In this era of AI-driven disinformation, our state and local election officials are vital sources of reliable election information. Local election officials are able to address questions about election-related information. Every citizen can access their websites, utilize official communication channels and verify election-related information through trusted sources. Just as we’ve learned to be cautious of robocalls and unsolicited emails, we must now apply the same vigilance to AI-generated disinformation.
This fight cannot rest solely on the shoulders of election officials. Engaged citizens play a pivotal role in countering this threat. It is our collective responsibility to fact-check information, report suspicious content and promote truthful digital transparency. By remaining well-informed, we can all contribute to mitigating the impact of AI-generated disinformation.
Keep Our Republic, a nonpartisan civic education nonprofit, is raising awareness and building trust in the electoral process. Through education, advocacy and community engagement, Keep Our Republic aims to empower citizens to protect the integrity of our elections. Together, we can confront the threat of AI-driven disinformation and ensure that the voice of the people remains clear and unaltered in our democracy.
Reilly, president emeritus of the University of Wisconsin System, is a member of the civic education nonprofit Keep Our Republic: keepourrepublic.org.