Monday, June 24, 2024

Voters Must Not Let AI Muddy Modern-Day Political Waters

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() true believers think it's the biggest and most important invention since fire.  For a program that treats “The Onion” as a legitimate source of news and information, the “bigger than fire” assertion borders on the asinine.

But that doesn't mean AI can't be an effective, and malicious toll in the hands of those who have every incentive to use it that way. Those people would include those who work in the shadowy world of political dirty tricks. It's not of the political activities campaigns are eager to discuss – because they really are “dirty tricks.” But lying, skullduggery, and malice have been a staple of American since the founding.

AI, then, is the latest, and potentially most potent, tool in the dirty trickster's arsenal.

And what an arsenal it is. Consider this pre-social media example, courtesy of the :

An early example of intentionally confusing the voters comes from John F. Kennedy's first run for Congress in 1946 in Boston. In Boston then (and now), the two dominant ethnic groups were Irish and Italian and the state was heavily Democratic—meaning that winning the Democratic primary was tantamount to winning the general election. Kennedy, Irish, was running in the Democratic primary against a Boston City Councilor named Joe Russo, an Italian. Kennedy's father, Joe, allegedly paid another Joseph Russo (this one a custodian with no political experience) to also run in the primary in hopes of splitting the non-Kennedy vote.

Ah, Joe Kennedy. Remember that Franklin Roosevelt put him in charge of the new Securities and Exchange Commission, which was supposed to clean up Wall Street's shadier operators, for a very good reason:  FDR “set a thief to catch a thief.”

But AI has the potential to cause more may