Democrats wanted a deal on the use of artificial intelligence. It went nowhere.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic National Committee watched earlier this year as campaigns across the country experimented with artificial intelligence. So the organization approached a handful of influential party campaign committees with a request: sign guidelines pledging to use the technology in a “responsible” way.

The draft agreement, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, was hardly full of revolutionary ideas. It asked campaigns to test work with AI tools, avoid biases and avoid using AI. To create misleading content.

“Our goal is to use this new technology effectively and ethically, and in a way that advances, rather than undermines, the values ​​we use in our campaigns,” the draft said.

The plan went nowhere.

Rather than promoting an agreement, the guidelines sparked debate about the value of such commitments, particularly those governing rapidly evolving technologies. Among the concerns raised by Democratic campaign organizations: Such a pledge could limit their ability to deploy AI and shut out donors from the AI ​​industry. Some committee officials were also angry that the DNC gave them just a few days to agree on the guidelines.

The proposal's demise highlighted campaign strategies and internal party divisions. Uncertainty about how best to use AI Amid warnings from experts that technology is supercharging the spread of misinformation.

Hannah Muldaven, a senior spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, said the group is not giving up on seeking consensus.

The DNC, she said, “will continue to engage with our sister committees to discuss ideas and issues important to Democratic campaigns and American voters, including AI.”

“Especially in the midst of a busy election year, it's not uncommon to change ideas and plans, and any document on this topic reflects initial and ongoing discussions,” Muldavin said. And our partners take seriously the opportunities and challenges presented by AI.”

The conflict comes as campaigns increasingly deploy artificial intelligence — computer systems, software or processes that mimic aspects of human work and cognition — to optimize workloads. This includes using large language models to write fundraising emails, text supporters and create chatbots to answer voters' questions.

The trend is expected to continue as November's general election approaches, with campaigns turning to supercharged generative AI tools for generating text and images, as well as cloning human voices and creating lightning-fast video. will be done

Republican National Committee Used AI-generated images A television spot last year predicted a dystopian future under President Joe Biden.

However, much of this adoption has been overshadowed by concerns about how campaigns could use artificial intelligence to deceive voters. Experts have warned that AI has become so powerful that it has made it easy to create “deeply fake” videos, audio snippets and other media targeting opposing candidates. Some states have Approved Law Regulating the way generative artificial intelligence is used. But Congress has so far failed to pass any bills regulating artificial intelligence at the federal level.

In the absence of regulation, the DNC called for a set of guidelines that could indicate the party is taking the risk and promise of AI seriously. He sent the proposal in March to five Democratic campaign committees seeking to elect House, Senate, gubernatorial, state legislative and state attorney general candidates to the office, according to the draft agreement.

The goal was for each committee to agree on a slate of AI guardrails, and the DNC proposed issuing a joint statement announcing such guidelines would ensure that campaigns “do not use misinformation and Be able to use the tools necessary to stop the spread of misinformation, while responsibly using generative AI to empower campaigns to safely engage more Americans in our democracy.”

The Democratic Committee had hoped that the statement would be signed by Chair Jaime Harrison and other organization leaders.

Democratic activists said the proposal fell flat. According to several Democratic operatives familiar with the outreach, some senior committee leaders expressed concern that the deal could have unintended consequences, perhaps affecting how campaigns use AI.

And it could send the wrong message to technology companies and executives who work on AI, many of whom help fill campaign coffers during election years.

Some of the Democratic Party's most prominent donors are top tech entrepreneurs and AI evangelists, including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

According to Federal Election Commission data, Altman has donated more than $200,000 to the Biden campaign and its affiliated Democratic Joint Fundraising Committee since the start of last year, and Schmidt's contributions to those groups totaled $500,000 during the same period. More than

According to the same data, two other AI advocates, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskowitz and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, donated more than $900,000 to Biden's joint fundraising committee this cycle.

Several Democratic operatives, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the DNC's plan caught committees off guard because it provided little clarity, other than a desire for each committee to come up with best practices within days. The list should be agreed upon. It is not authorized to discuss this matter. Aides to the Democratic Congressional Campaign and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committees said they felt rushed by the DNC's timeline, which urged them to sign off quickly.

Representatives for the Democratic Attorneys General Association did not respond to The Associated Press' request for comment. Spokesmen for the Democratic Governors Association and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee declined to comment.

The Republican National Committee did not respond to questions about its AI guidelines. The Biden campaign also declined to comment when asked about the DNC effort.

The four-page agreement — “Guidelines for the Responsible Use of Generative AI in Campaigns” — covers everything from ensuring that a human's work on an artificial intelligence system is vetted. Without being trusted to inform voters when they are interacting with AI-generated content or systems.

“As the explosive growth of creative AI transforms every aspect of public life — including political campaigns — it's more important than ever that we limit the potential threat this new technology poses to voters' rights, and its Instead leverage it to run innovative, effective campaigns and a robust campaign for “more inclusive democracy,” the proposal said.

The guidelines were divided into five sections including topics such as “Human Alternatives, Considerations and Fallback” and “Providing Notice and Clarification.” The proposed rules would require the committees to ensure that “an actual person must be responsible for approving AI-generated content and be accountable for how, where, and to whom it is deployed. Is.”

The directive explained how “users should always be aware when they are interacting with an AI bot” and stressed that any images or videos created by AI should be “flagged Should”. And it emphasized that campaigns should use AI to support staff, not replace them.

“Campaigns is a human-driven and human-motivated business,” read the agreement. “Use efficiency gains to educate more voters and focus more on quality control and sustainability.”

It also urged campaigns not to use “generative AI” to create misleading content. Period.”


This story is part of an Associated Press series, “The AI ​​Campaign,” exploring the influence of artificial intelligence in the 2024 election cycle.


The Associated Press receives financial support from the Omidyar Network to support coverage of artificial intelligence and its impact on society. AP is solely responsible for all content. Find the AP. Standards To work with philanthropists, list of supporters and funded coverage areas


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