FCC boss wants political ads to admit when they were made using AI

How about just flag up the adverts not using machine learning

The Federal Communications Commission is considering a proposal that would require US political ads to disclose their usage of AI technology.

The rule was suggested by the American watchdog's boss Jessica Rosenworcel and, if enacted, would create a more transparent political environment for citizens in the run-up to the 2024 Presidential, Congressional, and gubernatorial elections.

"As artificial intelligence tools become more accessible, the commission wants to make sure consumers are fully informed when the technology is used," Rosenworcel said in a statement [PDF]. "Today, I've shared with my colleagues a proposal that makes clear consumers have a right to know when AI tools are being used in the political ads they see, and I hope they swiftly act on this issue."

The agency argues AI output will form a significant component of political advertising this year, which runs the risk of them spreading false information and aiding the dissemination of deep fakes, made unintentionally or otherwise.

The concerns echo those of former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who said in March that AI will be problematic for elections around the world.

Similarly, Microsoft says even simple deep fakes can be effective when it comes to influencing elections, and that China is making full use of AI to rile US residents on social media.

Picture realistic-looking machine-made videos of people saying things they never actually said. Yes, media manipulation by humans, let alone AI, has always been a thing, though one can argue neural networks can massively increase the volume of that output, and realism, as well as mess it up. Making campaigns declare the use of the technology isn't perhaps a bad idea, presuming there's some kind of punishment for not doing so.

The FCC specifically pointed out that the intention of the proposal is not to ban AI-generated campaign ads outright and that the sole aim is to require disclosure from ad creators whenever AI is used.

Although Rosenworcel speaks as if she doesn't know whether the proposal would receive the support of other FCC board members, we can probably assume it has enough support to be adopted. Of the other four members, two are fellow Democrats, and it seems unlikely that the chair would suggest a new rule that didn't have a chance of going through.

As for the regulation's effectiveness, it's hard to predict its impact overall given it doesn't cover the internet, which is a key vector for AI-generated political content. TV and radio ads are still important in the US, depending on the target demographics, though don't discount campaigning efforts via social media and ads on streaming platforms. ®

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