Aspen Digital

Launching the A.I. Elections Initiative

A new effort to strengthen U.S. election resilience

A closeup of the "A" in Aspen Digital's brand mark, framed by lines of descending shades of green.
January 5, 2024

Vivian Schiller

Vice President & Executive Director

Josh Lawson

Director, A.I. & Democracy

AI capabilities are evolving quickly, and our expert interviews surfaced conditions that pose significant risk to voters this election cycle. Effective preparedness will require leaders across sectors to anticipate and mitigate threats from:

  1. Siloed Expertise: Incentives and expertise are misaligned across key groups who aren’t communicating well, or enough. 
  1. Public Susceptibility: While some communities are likely to be duped by misleading AI content, others will increasingly distrust genuine information in a way that deepens the “liar’s dividend” and undermines trust in evidence and facts. 
  1. Inadequate Platform Readiness: Certain major and mid-tier platforms have reduced “trust and safety” staffing and are inadequately prepared for the expected volume and velocity of AI-generated content. Closed messaging services may be major channels for AI content.
  1. Slow-Moving Policy: Comprehensive federal regulation is not generally expected before the election, and stop-gap regulations vary across states. 
  1. High-Quality AI-Generated Media: Detection of so-called “deepfakes” is increasingly difficult for tech-enabled systems and for ordinary people trying to identify inauthentic content.
  1. Scaled Distribution at High Speed: AI systems can generate and distribute large quantities of content, quickly, and at low cost.
  1. Message Targeting & Hyperlocal Misinformation: AI tools can fine-tune messages for particular language groups, demographic communities, psychological profiles, hyperlocal geographies, and even distinct individuals.
  1. Automated Harassment: AI may be used to significantly increase the volume and specificity of harassing content targeting elections officials or civic leaders.
  2. Cybersecurity of Elections Infrastructure: Expected advances in AI code-generation may be used to exacerbate malware challenges.