British Deputy PM says democratic countries over the world should unite to confront threat against AI in elections

SEOUL:

Democratic countries around the world should band together to confront the threat of AI used by malign states to threaten free elections and spread misinformation, British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden said on Tuesday.

In Seoul for the Summit for Democracy, Dowden on Monday announced what he hopes will be a “groundbreaking” new global government compact on countering deceptive use of artificial intelligence by foreign states in elections.

South Korea is hosting the third Summit for Democracy conference, an initiative of U.S. President Joe Biden aimed at discussing ways to stop democratic backsliding and erosion of rights and freedoms.

Details of the compact are still being worked out, but Dowden said several countries had signed on, without naming any.

Citing how major technology companies agreed at the Munich Security Conference in February to coordinate responses to AI-generated deepfakes that deliberately trick voters, Dowden said it is time for governments to follow suit.

 

“What the UK is leading on is a government-led process, a government-led agreement to tackle the threat from AI from foreign states,” he said in an interview at the UK Embassy in Seoul.

Britain has been embroiled in a debate over an edited photograph of Kate, Princess of Wales, for which she apologised after several leading news organisations, including Reuters, withdrew the picture citing post-publication analysis that showed it did not meet editorial standards.

Dowden said that incident is “totally separate” from the misinformation risks from “malign foreign states” seeking to interfere in democratic elections.

The compact “is not about the internal politics of each individual nation states that’s rightly a matter for nation states”, he said.

The risks from AI come amid other challenges to freedom and democracy around the world, Dowden said.

“For me the number one threat to democracy right now is the war that’s going on in Ukraine,” he said. “That’s why I think the discussions going on today have that added edge, because of the threats we face to democracy right now.”

Dowden said he was deeply concerned about the reported weapons transfers from North Korea to Russia, and called on Moscow to stop interfering on the Korean peninsula.

Pyongyang and Moscow have forged closer ties since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia in September and vowed to deepen military relations. They deny Western accusations that North Korea is supplying Russia with artillery shells and missiles used in Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

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