The World Economic Forum’s “Global Risks Report 2024” suggests that generative AI and the proliferation of misinformation could significantly impact elections worldwide in 2024. The report ranks AI-derived misinformation and disinformation among the top ten risks over the next two years, surpassing concerns such as extreme weather events, cyber insecurity, and armed conflicts. With elections occurring in countries representing 60% of global GDP, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and India, the potential impact of AI-driven misinformation is widespread. The report highlights the risk of undermining the legitimacy of newly elected governments, leading to unrest ranging from protests and hate crimes to civil confrontation and terrorism.
The widespread use of misinformation and disinformation, facilitated by AI tools, poses challenges to discerning reality from distortions, contributing to increased polarization and infiltrating public discourse on various issues. The report warns that as truth is undermined, there is a heightened risk of domestic propaganda and censorship. The rise of generative AI tools has resulted in a surge of websites hosting fake and false articles, increasing by more than 1,000% since May 2023. This trend benefits content farms and misinformation purveyors, making it easier to spread propaganda and false narratives, particularly regarding elections, wars, and natural disasters.
The report anticipates that AI-driven deepfakes and misinformation dissemination will make it more challenging for the public to distinguish reality, potentially leading to societal polarization, riots, and violent crackdowns. Perceptions of reality are expected to become more polarized, affecting public discourse on issues like public health and social justice. The report concludes by emphasizing the rising risk of domestic propaganda and censorship as truth is compromised. The impact of generative AI on misinformation is a growing concern, and the report underscores the need for global attention and strategic measures to address the challenges posed by AI in the context of elections and information integrity.