Ahmad Abdel-Rahman
September 22, 2023

Artificial intelligence is a future threat for all elections including the Arab ones, experts say

A video promoted about the future of America after Biden announced his intention to run in the 2024 elections created great controversy.

History dates back to the year 2024. US presidential candidate Joe Biden wins a second term for the presidency of the US, after being re-elected. China invades Taiwan, storefronts are closed, 500 regional banks have collapsed and the financial markets have collapsed. A flood of illegal immigrants, who have crossed a river, has invaded America, and security forces are deployed in San Francisco, which was closed due to crimes.

All these scenes were in a 32-second video clip that includes several photos, under the title: "What if the weakest president we have ever seen is re-elected?" There was a photo of US president Joe Biden and vice president, Kamala Harris.

Although the year 2023 has not ended yet, the video clip that was promoted as a forward-looking picture of America's future, and was published by the Republican Party last April, after Biden announced his intention to run in the presidential elections next year, created a major controversy.

On the upper left of the video clip, there is a sentence saying that the published material, which has achieved millions of views on several social media platforms, was created by artificial intelligence (AI). Published photos showing former US President Donald Trump and security forces arresting him accompany this sentence. It later became clear that the photo was indeed produced by AI. Between Trump's photo and Biden's video, there is more fear about the elections and the world of politics, not only in America, but also in the entire world, including the Arab world.

The Security Council intervenes

Last July, the first robotics press conference was held, specifically on July 7, with the aim of showing the importance of AI and robots to help solve human challenges related to hunger and disease. Only a few days passed until the Security Council, which, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, is responsible for maintaining international peace and security, held a session entitled "Artificial Intelligence: Opportunities and Threats for International Peace and Security."

AI has become a subject of great concern and fear on various fronts, including armament, peace and security, politics, and elections. However, the latter was part of a series of concerns about the counterfeit industry, and its ability to professionally mislead millions, based on deep fakes. Then, countries, governments, and scholars spoke about its dangers to that world, which relies on measurements of public opinion, and the actions, statements, and information that drives them.

Arab fear

Last June, Arab fear of the impact of AI on elections appeared during the fourth meeting of Arab electoral administrations at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the Arab League. During the meeting, assistant Secretary-General of the Arab League Hossam Zaki said: "The role of the media in elections in the era of digital technology and artificial intelligence has witnessed successive changes, not all of them positive."

According to Zaki, despite the opportunities provided by modern technology to develop the electoral process, bringing a higher degree of transparency at all its stages, and making a greater amount of information available to the electorate about the candidates and their programmes, some experiences in recent years "point to the not-so-good roles in which technology can be employed". Digital, social media and artificial intelligence applications to do so in a way that discredits the electoral process or undermines confidence in its integrity and fairness."

Digital propaganda

An academic specialising in international relations and media, Muhammad Firas, considers that politics is not immune to AI. It can influence the public, and voters implicitly. This is achieved by developing political discourse according to a methodology that supports the formulation of electoral trends, something that is reinforced by "digital propaganda", he says.

Firas believes that AI will provide speed and accuracy in analysing the available data, and electoral manipulation will continue to exist in its traditional form as well as in its advanced form through AI. However, he considered it too early to talk about how Arab politics might be impacted by this technology.

Ahmed Samer Wazzan, an academic specialising in the digital world, warned that the Arab world will face problems in the elections because of AI, as might happen with any other country. He said that these issues draw attention to the need to reconsider the role of AI in elections.

US elections

Last May, while Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, which was behind ChatGPT, was speaking before a US Senate committee about AI, he said that using this technology to interfere with the integrity of elections is a matter of great concern.

Last April, US president Biden met with a group of experts to study the dangers of the rapid developments in AI, and the extent of its impact on US national security. This discussion came following a call by several technology experts and prominent scientists to stop the development of AI.

Photo: The role of artificial intelligence in elections (by Adobe)