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Proposed UT bill targets AI in political ads

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Wednesday, February 21, 2024   

One Utah lawmaker wants to regulate artificial intelligence in political ads.

Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, is behind Senate Bill 131, which would help ensure Utahns are not being misinformed. The bill would require candidates to disclose if AI is used in political advertisements or not use it all.

Karthik Ramakrishnan, founder and CEO of Armilla AI, said officials should focus more on regulating artificial intelligence models to ensure misinformation and disinformation do not fall through the cracks.

"Technology has advanced to such a degree that we can't even distinguish when something is faked," Ramakrishnan pointed out. "Is that a good thing? In and of itself, it isn't a bad thing, it is the usage of this and by whom that it matters."

The Federal Communications Commission recently banned robocalls using voices generated by AI. Ramakrishnan contended it will be hard to prevent AI-generated content from being produced, which is why he thinks Utah's proposed law is a step in a better direction.

Ramakrishnan argued rather than solely focusing on the negatives, politicians should also use AI in their favor.

"If an official or a candidate wanted to leverage AI, have their voice generated in multiple languages when they call certain demographics, tailor their message to a specific constituency," Ramakrishnan suggested. "Instead of recording 50 or 70, 100 different variations, they can have an AI generate those and speak to their potential voters."

But data from Pew Research Center shows Americans are increasingly cautious about the growing role of AI in their lives with 52% of Americans reporting they are more concerned than excited about AI in daily life.

For companies and organizations using AI, Ramakrishnan encouraged them to willingly submit themselves to a third-party audit and post the results on their websites to instill more confidence and transparency. He suggested people in Utah and around the country cast a more critical eye -- or ear -- on the information they consume, especially in an election year.

"We need to have that extra level of filter," Ramakrishnan emphasized. "Is the plausibility of that being true? And doing our own research. Not taking everything at face value, but doing that second or third order of research, because this is about voting, this is about democracy, it is about your franchise."

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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