Generative AI ‘pours gasoline’ on political misinformation crisis – Fortune

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Good morning.

The conversations at Fortune Brainstorm AI in London this week were mostly optimistic glimpses into how technology will improve our businesses, our lives and our health. Olivier Oullier, co-founder and CEO of Inclusive Brains, ended the event with a fascinating look at how a brain-computer interface will help a quadriplegic carry the Olympic torch later this year.

But the darkest moment of the two days, in my view, was a conversation that I led on the effects of AI on elections and democracy. The speakers, who had deep experience in U.S., U.K., and European politics, noted that we’ve already lived through a decade or more of deteriorating trust in the information available around elections. And generative AI carries the capacity, as one said, to supercharge that misinformation. Some excerpts:

The real problem is this sense that we are moving further and further into different tribes, into our own filter bubbles, and AI can come along and magnify and amplify that and drive people into an environment where there are their own alternative facts and they are split.”

—Craig Oliver, global co-head, strategy and reputation, FGS Global

“In the short run, the power of AI is a massive exponential amplifier. And if you have no quality control, which I’d say we don’t at the moment, then you have the capacity to amplify misinformation at a faster speed.

—Tara McGuinness, founder and executive director, New Practice Lab

You can actually have AI do the targeting and AI do the messaging and the delivery of the message. I think that is powerful and it is quite dystopian. It pours gasoline on it.”

Julius van de Laar, political strategist, Van De Laar Campaigning

While the panelists were pessimistic about the short-term, they agreed that a concerted public effort, involving both regulation and private actions, was needed to keep democracy intact. McGuinness had the following stark message for the assembled executives: 

The project is public trust. If we keep coming back to that, in any aspect of this, whether you are building a health technology company or a media company, that is our collective charge. And it will break us if we don’t all address this.”

You can read more from the conference here. And here’s today’s CEO quote on why Fortune is important to business:

The world’s biggest challenges are also its greatest opportunities. To have chronicled the most transformative moments in business over nearly 100 years is remarkable. This is where Fortune shines. A united team profiling the influential leaders, news and events shaping our world.”

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Other news below.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray

[email protected]

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AROUND THE WATERCOOLER

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This edition of CEO Daily was curated by Nicholas Gordon. 

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