Full Disclosure: Microsoft didn’t really name Biden when they warned of AI being used to manipulate the outcome of the Presidential election in the US, but do you really think the Chinese would want a strong candidate like Trump to win or a sock-puppet like Joe Biden? — GDM

AI Alert

Microsoft has sounded the alarm over the possibility that artificial intelligence might be exploited by cyber groups with links to the Chinese government to interfere in crucial elections across the United States, South Korea, and India. This alert comes in the wake of what is perceived as a preliminary attempt to manipulate the presidential elections in Taiwan, where AI-crafted materials were used to deter voters from supporting a candidate with pro-independence leanings.

The corporation’s cyber threat analysis division released insights indicating that along with Chinese digital operatives, factions associated with North Korea could also take part in similar schemes aimed at affecting the outcomes of these significant international elections. The main tactic the bad actors may use involves generating and spreading AI-crafted materials on various social media platforms to advance China’s geopolitical aims in these nations.

According to Microsoft, China’s venture into employing AI for political ends isn’t groundbreaking. In the lead-up to Taiwan‘s last presidential vote, a group operating under Beijing’s control, known as Storm 1376 and alternatively referred to as Spamouflage or Dragonbridge, took center stage. This outfit tried to tilt the electoral scales by circulating artificial audio clips and AI-created memes disparaging William Lai, the candidate advocating for national independence. Lai eventually won the election. Their efforts featured baseless charges against Lai and used AI-generated news presenters to disseminate false information.

Past Practice Using YouTube

Microsoft pinpointed a particular incident involving a fraudulent audio clip on YouTube, falsely claiming to feature Terry Gou, another electoral contender, endorsing a rival candidate, presumably crafted using AI tools. Although YouTube quickly took the clip down, its emergence underscores a pivotal instance of AI-manufactured content being utilized to attempt to manipulate the outcome of an international election.

Additionally, Microsoft’s study discusses the persistent efforts by the Chinese to shape opinions within the United States, noting instances where Beijing-aligned social media profiles have engaged in stirring debates to pinpoint polarizing topics among American voters. This approach might be part of a broader scheme to polish China’s misinformation operations in preparation for the upcoming US presidential election.