Arizona secretary of state warns AI could be a ‘magnifier’ of disinformation ahead of election

Arizona’s Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (D) warned artificial intelligence (AI) could be a “magnifier” of misinformation ahead of the upcoming election on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.

“Well, look, I have to reach back into my past,” Fontes said, according to a transcript. “And in boot camp and in other military training I had in the Marine Corps, we looked at the weapons of our enemies, and we train against them as much as possible. AI is not a new weapon. It’s an amplifier and a magnifier of mis- and disinformation.”

“What I wanted to do is make sure that our elections officials were familiar with it, we had processes to deal with it and address it within each of our counties, because our elections are run at the county level, as well,” Fontes continued. “We also had a tabletop exercise among several for elections officials for the media so that our media partners could know how to react to it and recognize it.”

President Biden said Tuesday in a post on the social platform X that AI “and the companies that wield its possibilities are going to transform the lives of people around the world – there’s no doubt about that.”

“But first, they must earn our trust,” Biden continued. “I commit to do everything in my power to promote and demand safe, secure, trustworthy, and responsible innovation – that includes the use of AI-generated audio. I ask that AI companies join me in that commitment.”

In the same appearance on “Meet the Press,” Fontes also said increasing threats to election officials are “domestic terrorism” and that he and other offices are trying to tackle the issue alongside law enforcement nationwide.

“And I think back to what we were talking about just a moment ago, one of the ways that I have been looking at this and addressing this is telling the really hard truth,” Fontes said.

“And that is this: Threats against election officials in the United States of America is domestic terrorism,” he continued. “Terrorism is defined as a threat or violence for a political outcome. That’s what this is.”

A poll from earlier this month found that almost four in 10 election workers experienced threats, harassment or abuse on the job.

Updated at 8:24 a.m. EDT

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