With GOP opposition, a U.S. Senate panel advances bills aimed at combating artificial intelligence in elections

Members of the US Senate are sounding the alarm about the threat that artificial intelligence poses to elections due to its ability to cheat voters. However, the prospects for introducing legislation that will significantly address this problem appear uncertain.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the Senate Rules Committee introduced three bills aimed at countering the threat of artificial intelligence. But the only one that would get support from Republicans on the panel would simply create voluntary guidelines for election officials. It strongly refrains from limiting the apply of artificial intelligence in elections or even requiring disclosure of its apply – steps that an increasing number of countries have already taken.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who chairs the Rules Committee and introduced all three measures, said generative artificial intelligence’s ability to create duplicitous images fundamentally threatens fair elections.

“We will see fraud and fraud increase again in our elections,” Klobuchar said. “And whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, a conservative or a liberal, we cannot allow our democracy to be undermined by ads and videos from which you literally don’t know whether it’s a candidate you love or a candidate you don’t like. “

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer described the stakes as even higher.

“Our democracy may never recover if we lose the ability to distinguish truth from falsehood at all, as artificial intelligence threatens to do,” said the New York Democrat, whose appearance at the hearing was a potential signal that he intends to prioritize the legislation.

Automatic AI connections, images

The dangers posed by artificial intelligence were clearly illustrated in February, when thousands of voters in New Hampshire received the bounty automatic connection with an AI-generated voice impersonating President Joe Biden and urging them not to vote in the upcoming state primary. A Democratic activist working for a rival candidate did just that He admitted to order calls.

And last June, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign released video that appeared to apply AI-generated images of former President Donald Trump hugging Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s former chief medical adviser who is deeply unpopular with GOP voters.

At the state level Pennsylvania Secretary of State Al Schmidt told the Capital-Star earlier this year that while artificial intelligence may provide potential voter education benefits in the future, monitoring has become necessary because Entities acting in bad faith apply this technology to spread election disinformation. He pointed to the 2020 election as proof that lies can be spread via a social media post or email.

There are at least two measures in the Pennsylvania General Assembly to address the issue of artificial intelligence.

State Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) is the primary sponsor. House Bill 2144Which would prohibit the apply of artificially generated votes for political campaign purposes. He said the bill wouldn’t block robocalls in campaigns, but it would ensure voters don’t think they’re talking to a candidate when it’s artificial intelligence instead. It would set penalties for people who apply artificial intelligence to deceive voters into thinking they are having a personalized conversation with a candidate.

“This is a completely new and emerging technology,” Heffley told the Capital-Star. “So I think we need to set boundaries on what is ethical and what is not.”

There was a bill most recommended to the House State Government Committee in overdue March.

Pennsylvania Rep. Chris Pielli (R-Chester) is sponsoring a bill that would require disclosure of AI-generated content. House Bill 1598 passed the House in April and sits earlier Pennsylvania Senate Committee on Communications and Technology.

I try to avoid partisan politics

During her U.S. Senate hearing, Klobuchar said she wanted the issue not to be raised by a “partisan community.” She noted that blue, purple and red states have recently passed legislation to address the threat of artificial intelligence. All three pieces of legislation introduced by Klobuchar have Republican co-sponsors.

Still, there were signs that avoiding partisan politics might prove impossible.

Often Republicans in Congress led by House Speaker Mike Johnson in Louisiana have strongly opposed the Biden administration’s previous efforts to curb the spread of political misinformation, saying they violate the right to speech and give too much power to government regulators.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., the panel’s top Republican, expressed similar concerns Wednesday about two of Klobuchar’s bills: the Protecting Elections from Deceptive Artificial Intelligence Act and the Artificial Intelligence Election Transparency Act.

The Protect Elections from Deceptive AI Act would prohibit duplicitous AI-related video and audio from candidates for federal office. It was introduced in September by Klobuchar and has five co-sponsors, including Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.

The Artificial Intelligence in Elections Transparency Act requires political ads using artificial intelligence to include a statement disclosing its apply. The measure, introduced by Klobuchar in March, is co-sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

Fischer argued that the two bills “increase the burden on speech” and are too vague in their definition of artificial intelligence, creating uncertainty about whether a speaker can be punished. They also aim to federalize the problem and repeal state laws, encroaching on state control of elections, Fischer added.

Both solutions were adopted by the Rules Committee on Wednesday in a party-line vote, without Republican support. (The official vote tally in both cases was 9-2 because some Republicans who were not present at the hearing voted “no by proxy,” which is not counted as an official vote.)

The third solution, the Act on preparing election administrators for AI, was unanimously adopted by the committee.

It would require the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to consult with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to create voluntary guidance for election officials on how to protect against the threats of artificial intelligence in elections, especially regarding its apply by foreign adversaries.

On May 13, Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick, D-Pennsylvania, and Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pennsylvania, introduced companion legislation in the House.

Over the last year or more states including Texas, Florida, New York, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oregon, Utah, New Mexico and Idaho have passed laws limiting the apply of artificial intelligence in political advertising or requiring its disclosure.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star reporter John Cole contributed to this report.

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