States look to legislation to regulate AI political ads next election

States are attempting to do what they can to regulate artificial intelligence and deepfakes ahead of next year’s election.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign legislation aimed at combating deceptive uses of AI.

Violators of the law could face prison time or a fine.

A handful of states, including Texas and California, have already passed laws regulating deepfakes in political advertising.

On the federal level, the Federal Election Commission is also looking into regulating deepfake material in political advertisements.

“Deepfakes have impact no matter where you use them,” said Shomir Wilson, an assistant professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Pennsylvania State University and director of the Human Language Technologies Lab.

@scrippsnews Can you tell the difference between a real video and a deepfake video made using artificial intelligence? Multiple states have passed laws regulating the use of AI in political ads ahead of next year’s election. Here’s why. #artificialintelligence #election ♬ original sound – Scripps News

Wilson said while the term AI has been used for decades, there’s been more interest in the past few years because of a surge in machine learning research and popularity of platforms like ChatGPT.

Experts are concerned AI deepfakes could be used maliciously during this next election, leading to misinformed voters.

Deepfakes are videos, made using AI, that can make fake events or people appear real.

“There’s something very convincing about video just in general,” Wilson said. “That’s a potent tool for anyone trying to convince a broad population that a person is somehow not fit for office or has positions they don’t actually have.”

Experts say during this next election cycle, use critical thinking. 

“Think, well, is this from a trustworthy source? Is it from a source I know about? Is it from a source I’ve never heard of? If it’s from a source I’ve never heard of, maybe I can do some more research,” Wilson said.