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Mark Warner pushes Tech Accord companies on preventing misuse of AI

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With under six months until the U.S. general election, Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark R. Warner of Virginia is pushing tech companies to follow up on commitments made at the Munich Security Conference.

The companies made promises to take concrete measures to combat malicious misuses of generative artificial intelligence (AI) that could impact elections. In February 2024, a group of AI companies signed the Tech Accord to Combat Deceptive Use of AI in 2024 Elections, a high-level roadmap for a variety of new initiatives, investments and interventions that could improve the information ecosystem surrounding this year’s elections. Following that initial agreement, Warner is pushing for specific answers about the actions that companies are taking to make good on the Tech Accord.

“Against the backdrop of worldwide proliferation of malign influence activity globally – with an ever-growing range of malign actors embracing social media and wider digital communications technologies to undermine trust in public institutions, markets, democratic systems and the free press — generative AI (and related media-manipulation) tools can impact the volume, velocity and believability of deceptive election,” Warner wrote.

Elections will be held in 2024 in more than 40 countries representing more than 4 billion individuals, while AI companies are simultaneously releasing a range of powerful and untested new tools that have the potential to rapidly spread believable misinformation, as well as abuse by a range of bad actors. While the Tech Accord represented a positive, public-facing first step to recognize and address this novel challenge, Warner is pushing for effective, durable protections to ensure that malign actors can’t use AI to craft misinformation campaigns and to prevent its dissemination on social media platforms. He posed a series of questions to get specific information on the actions that companies are taking to prevent the creation and rapid spread of AI-enabled disinformation and election deception.

“While high-level, the commitments your company announced in conjunction with the Tech Accord offer a clear roadmap for a variety of new initiatives, investments, and interventions that can materially enhance the information ecosystem surrounding this year’s election contests. To that end, I am interested in learning more about the specific measures your company is taking to implement the Tech Accord. While the public pledge demonstrated your company’s willingness to constructively engage on this front, ultimately the impact of the Tech Accord will be measured in the efficacy – and durability – of the initiatives and protection measures you adopt,” Warner wrote. 

The letter concludes by pointing out that several of the proposed measures to combat malicious misuse in elections would also help address adjacent misuses of AI technology, including the creation of non-consensual intimate imagery, child sexual abuse material, and online bullying and harassment campaigns. Warner has been consistently calling attention to and pushing for action from AI companies on these and other potential misuses. Warner hosted a public Intelligence Committee hearing today where leaders from the FBI, CISA, and the ODNI will provide updates on threats to the 2024 election.

Warner sent letters to every signatory of the Tech Accord: Adobe, Amazon, Anthropic, Arm, Eleven Labs, Gen, GitHub, Google, IBM, Inflection, Intuit, LG, LinkedIn, McAfee, Microsoft, Meta, NetApp, Nota, Open AI, Snap, Stability AI, TikTok, Trend, True Media, Truepic and X (formerly Twitter).

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.