AI could be used to interfere with 2024 elections, Nick Clegg warns

1 November 2023, 10:24

Nick Clegg
Nick Clegg. Picture: PA

The former deputy prime minister made the warning as the AI safety summit begins.

Governments must prepare for artificial intelligence (AI) being used to interfere with upcoming elections, Sir Nick Clegg has said.

The former Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister, who is now president of global affairs at Meta, the parent company of Facebook, made the warning as the AI safety summit begins.

The summit will see representatives of 27 countries, including the US, France and China, meet with leading AI companies and civic society groups to discuss the risks of the emerging technology.

Sir Nick, who served as deputy prime minister between 2010 and 2015, said industry and government co-operation was needed “right now” on the role generative AI will play in elections next year.

Generative AI tools can make images, text, audio and even videos at request by using patterns they recognise in existing media to create new, often very realistic content.

The US will hold its next presidential election in November 2024 and the UK is also expected to go to the polls at a date yet to be chosen by the Prime Minister.

Sir Nick told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it made more sense to try to regulate the “use cases” of AI rather than micromanage the technology itself “through the statute book”.

The technology executive said this week’s AI summit at Bletchley Park was a “worthwhile endeavour”, but it was important to prevent “proximate challenges” being “crowded out by a lot of speculative, sometimes somewhat futuristic predictions” regarding AI’s capabilities.

Oliver Dowden, the current Deputy Prime Minister, said the Government was aware of the risks AI posed to the democratic process and would discuss this with leading companies and nations.

He told the BBC: “I think Nick is absolutely right to highlight that and indeed that is one of the topics we will be discussing today at the summit.

“There is a range of different buckets of risks, and the first one is exactly those kind of societal risks, whether they go to bias, disinformation or the creation of deepfakes.”

Elon Musk
Elon Musk has warned about the dangers of AI (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Dowden added there was a need to be “mindful of the longer-term risks”.

The summit is seen as an attempt by Rishi Sunak to make Britain a world authority on AI and its safe use.

While representatives from the UK’s allies and other global powers will attend, Downing Street denied the gathering is being snubbed after world leaders including US President Joe Biden confirmed they would not appear.

Alongside Mr Clegg, other leading technology leaders attending will include Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla and owner of the X social media site, who has publicly shared his fears about the dangers AI could pose.

The gathering will take place on Wednesday and Thursday at Bletchley Park, home of the UK’s Second World War codebreaking efforts, where noted computer scientist Alan Turing worked.

The first day of the summit will see delegates hold roundtable discussions about the various risks of AI while the second will focus on the responsible use of the technology.

After it closes, the Prime Minister is expected to host a livestreamed interview with Mr Musk.

By Press Association

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