Sam Altman and Bill Gates weigh AI risks in Davos in a big election year

Sam Altman and Bill Gates weigh AI risks in Davos in a big election year

With nearly half of the world’s population heading to the polls in the 2024 national elections, leaders at the World Economic Forum are grappling with how the arrival of ChatGPT will affect these democracies and how governments, in turn, will regulate AI.

Leaders in artificial intelligence, including Sam Altman of OpenAI and Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates spoke this week at Davos, the gilded annual conference where billionaires speak about global issues. While all said they took the threat of artificial intelligence in the election seriously, there was division over whether they thought a major disruption was likely.

Microsoft Corp. CEO Satya Nadella downplayed the risks somewhat. “It’s not like this is the first election where disinformation, or disinformation, and election interference is going to be a real challenge that we all have to address” he said, speaking at Bloomberg House in Davos on Tuesday.

Later that day, Altman echoed that sentiment but expressed more uncertainty. “I don’t think this will ever be the same as before.” he said. “It is always a mistake to try to fight the last war.”

Altman and Nadella spoke the day after the first major caucus of the US presidential election, in which former President Donald Trump scored an easy victory over his fellow Republicans. ChatGPT was not available the last time the United States went to the polls, and there is growing concern that, in addition to making it easier to write code or craft emails, generative AI tools can be used to produce misinformation and false images that unfairly influence voters.

In a warning of what is to come, videos showing fake AI-generated voices of politicians were widely spread ahead of last year’s Slovak parliamentary elections.. They were shared on sites like Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook and Instagram, and messaging apps like Telegram that included audio posing as political opponents, said Reset, a research group that analyzes the impact of technology on democracy, in a report at that time.

One video included a fake two-minute clip of a party leader appearing to discuss vote buying. But the audio file was synthesized by an artificial intelligence tool trained with samples of your voice.

At Davos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates predicted that with generative artificial intelligence tools, “the bad ones will be more productive”in an interview with Bloomberg’s Francine Lacqua.

Meanwhile, Salesforce Inc. CEO Marc Benioff suggested that social media poses a greater risk to the democratic process than AI. “The regulators haven’t done their job,” she said.

OpenAI, which counts Microsoft as its largest investor, is “quite focused,” Altman said, on reducing the potential for political misuse of its tools, such as ChatGPT and Dall-E.

Altman and Nadella attended a meeting in May with US Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss the risks of AI. OpenAI will soon launch to test a tool that can identify AI-generated content and will digitally mark material generated by Dall-E, the startup said on Monday. He reiterated that the use of OpenAI models for political campaigns is not permitted.

“Our minds are not at ease,” Altman said. “We’ll have to watch this incredibly closely this year“.

As for how the policy will affect AI, Altman was less worried. “I think America will be fine no matter what happens in this election. I think AI is going to work well no matter what happens after this election“, he claimed.

OpenAI vice president of global affairs Anna Makanju said she is encouraged by the proposed regulation put forward by President Joe Biden and the European Union. “What has caught my attention and has been really notable is that the conversation around AI is still very bipartisan.“, said.

Altman agreed, more or less: “Both sides hate him.”