Experts have issued a warning, urging action on the use of AI- generated or enhanced images in politics. This comes after a Labour MP, Karl Turner, apologized for sharing a manipulated image of Rishi Sunak pouring a pint on Twitter. The image received criticism from the Conservatives, with Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden calling it “unacceptable.”
Experts believe that the incident foreshadows potential problems during the upcoming fiercely contested election campaigns. While it remains unclear whether AI was used to manipulate the image of Sunak, AI tools have made it easier and faster to create convincing fake text, images, and audio.
Wendy Hall, a regius professor of computer science at the University of Southampton, emphasized the threat that digital technologies, including AI, pose to democratic processes. She believes this should be a priority on the AI risk register, especially with major elections in the UK and the US approaching next year.
Shweta Singh, an assistant professor of information systems and management at the University of Warwick, stressed the need for ethical principles to assure users that the news they consume is trustworthy. Ensuring regulations around AI and manipulated images are in place is crucial for fair and impartial elections.
Prof Faten Ghosn, the head of the department of government at the University of Essex, suggested that politicians should be transparent with voters when using manipulated images. She highlighted the efforts of US congresswoman Yvette Clarke, who is proposing a law change that would require political adverts to disclose if they contain AI-generated material.
The concerns raised by experts reflect a broader political worry about how to regulate AI, particularly regarding deepfake technology. Darren Jones, the Labour chair of the business select committee, questioned the government’s efforts in tackling deepfake photos, especially in preparation for the upcoming election.