How AI could take over elections and undermine democracy
Archon Fung, Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government, Harvard Kennedy School, and Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law and Leadership, Harvard University, pose the question: “Could organizations use artificial intelligence language models such as ChatGPT to induce voters to behave in specific ways? Sen. Josh Hawley asked OpenAI CEO Sam Altman this question in a May 16, 2023, U.S. Senate hearing on artificial intelligence. Altman replied that he was indeed concerned that some people might use language models to manipulate, persuade and engage in one-on-one interactions with voters. Altman did not elaborate, but he might have had something like this scenario in mind. Imagine that soon, political technologists develop a machine called Clogger – a political campaign in a black box. Clogger relentlessly pursues just one objective: to maximize the chances that its candidate – the campaign that buys the services of Clogger Inc. – prevails in an election. While platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube use forms of AI to get users to spend more time on their sites, Clogger’s AI would have a different objective: to change people’s voting behavior.