The Echo of Uncertainty: AI and Deep Fake Technologies in the 2024 U.S. Election

January 25, 2024

Echo of Uncertainty: AI and Deep Fake Technologies in the 2024 U.S. Election

By Daniel Brunner, Chief Operating Officer, Brunner Sierra Group LLC
January 25, 2024

Untitled design (7)

As the country comes out of the starting gates of the 2024 U.S. election, we are poised at a critical juncture where the marvels of technology intersect with the vulnerabilities of democracy. Among the most concerning developments is the advent and misuse of artificial intelligence (AI) and deep fake technologies. This article explores the potential impacts of these technologies on the election, with a particular focus on the recent incident involving deepfaked robocalls using President Joe Biden's voice in the New Hampshire primary.

Deep Fakes: A Growing Concern

Deep fakes, which utilize AI to create hyper-realistic but entirely fabricated audio and video content, are becoming increasingly sophisticated and accessible. This technology, while holding potential for creative and educational uses, also presents significant risks for misinformation and manipulation.

The New Hampshire Incident: A Case Study

In a startling example of the potential misuse of deep fake technology, President Joe Biden's voice was replicated using AI to create robocalls during the New Hampshire primary. A robocall utilizing a deep fake of President Biden's voice was circulated. In the message, a voice tells voters to "save" their ballot for the general election in November.

"Republicans have been trying to push nonpartisan and Democratic voters to participate in their primary. What a bunch of malarkey," says the message.

This call, falsely attributed to Biden, urged voters to stay home, thus attempting to suppress voter participation in the primary. The call even included the personal cell phone number of Kathy Sullivan, a former New Hampshire Democratic Party chair, without her permission. Sullivan labeled this as an attempt at election interference and called for an investigation. 

Untitled design (8)

Wider Implications for the 2024 Election

  1. Misinformation and Manipulation: The New Hampshire incident is a stark reminder of how deep fakes can be weaponized to spread misinformation. This poses a threat to the informed decision-making that is fundamental to the democratic process.
  2. Undermining Trust: The capability to mimic public figures accurately can lead to a significant erosion of trust in public discourse, as voters may become skeptical of the authenticity of any communication.
  3. Regulatory Challenges: This incident underscores the need for effective regulation and swift law enforcement responses to combat the misuse of deep fake technologies.

Strategies for Mitigation

  1. Public Education: Raising awareness about the existence and nature of deep fakes is vital. Voters should be educated on how to critically evaluate and verify the information they receive.
  2. Technological Countermeasures: Investing in the development of AI-driven tools to detect deep fakes can help in identifying and flagging synthetic media.
  3. Legal and Policy Frameworks: Strengthening legal frameworks to address the creation and distribution of deep fakes, especially in the context of elections, is essential for deterring misuse.

The 2024 U.S. election presents a complex landscape where the potentials and pitfalls of AI and deep fake technologies are ever-present. The incident in New Hampshire is a cautionary tale of the disruptive power of these technologies. A multifaceted approach involving public education, technological advancements, and robust legal frameworks is essential to safeguard the integrity of the electoral process and to ensure that the democratic voice remains uncorrupted by the digital echo of falsehood.