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Brad Smith, Vice Chairman and President of Microsoft, shed light on the escalating challenges posed by misinformation and disinformation during election campaigns, explicitly focusing on the role of generative artificial intelligence (AI).
Brad Smith expressed deep concern over the increasing prevalence of misleading content and the potential influence of AI-generated material on the electoral process.
During an interview with India Today Group, Smith emphasized the urgent need for a comprehensive approach to address these issues and safeguard the integrity of democratic processes. The interview, on the sidelines of World Economic Forum in Davos, focused on three main measures to combat the evolving landscape of AI and its profound impact across the globe.
Smith emphasized the need for collaboration across diverse entities to label AI-generated content. “First, we need to band together and persuade every company, every candidate, every government, every nonprofit that uses AI to create an image, an audio, or a video to label it,” he said. Brad Smith stressed the importance of using available technology for watermarking, stating, “The technology has been developed, the standards are there, the watermarking is available. Now we have to commit to using it.”
Addressing the challenge of deepfakes, Smith supported a coordinated industry response. “The second thing we need to do is bring our industry together, including in coordinated ways so that if there are deep fakes that are created that fake or alter what a candidate is saying or doing, we know what we’re going to do when that happens,” he explained. Smith explained the need for detection, information sharing, and prompt action, stating, “We need to detect it, share that information, and have the major platforms, including our own like LinkedIn, decide that we will take prompt action.”
Smith emphasized the significance of public education in designing an informed and savvy audience. He underscored the need to prepare the public to encounter misinformation, stating, “The third aspect is a collective effort to educate the public, ensuring we have a well-informed and savvy audience prepared for the possibility of encountering information that may not be accurate.” Referring to the recent election in Taiwan, he noted, “Our sense from our team there is that the public was well-prepared, and so even when there were deep fakes, they didn’t succeed.”
Other topics, such as AI’s impact on elections, ethical considerations, and Microsoft’s dedication to responsible AI development, were also discussed. Brad Smith addressed concerns about AI’s impact on jobs, emphasizing, ” I’ve never believed in the possibility of slowing down technological development. Instead, I advocate for responsibility, including implementing new laws to expedite progress.”
As the discussion expanded to global AI trends, Smith highlighted Microsoft’s emphasis on copilots – AI-driven tools designed to enhance productivity, security, and business applications. He expressed enthusiasm about generative AI’s tangible applications, stating, “By 2024, I anticipate a substantial increase in the number of individuals using generative AI.