Commerce Secretary ‘very worried’ about AI being used nefariously in 2024 election

The Department of Commerce announced a new group studying AI..

February 9, 2024, 2:12 AM

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said she is “very worried” about artificial intelligence being used nefariously in the 2024 election, she told reporters at a press conference in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

“AI can do amazing things and AI can disrupt our elections, here and around the world,” she said. “We’re already starting to see it.”

Raimondo was asked by ABC News about the robocall sent on the day of the New Hampshire primary purporting to be from President Biden and spreading misinformation about voting times.

She said the government is going to work “extensively” to start putting out AI framework that helps people — including journalists — be able to decipher what is real and what is fake.

The Commerce Secretary added that AI companies want to do the right thing based on her conversations with them.

“Am I worried? Yes,” she said. “Do I think we have the tools to protect our election and our democracy? Yes. Do I feel based on my interactions with the private sector that they want to do the right thing? By and large, Yes. It’s a big threat.”

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, addresses an audience, Dec. 11, 2023, during a visit to BAE Systems in Nashua, N.H.

Steven Senne/AP

As it relates to China and AI, Raimondo said “we have to stay ahead of trends.”

On Thursday, the Commerce Department put together a consortium of government and private companies to tackle the challenges of AI.

“This is a big deal,” Raimondo said. “This is the largest collection of frontline AI developers, users, researchers and interested groups in the world. In this consortia, which we’re starting off with more than 200 members, we have Fortune 500 companies, academic teams, nonprofit organizations and government agencies joined forces to focus on the research and development necessary to enable safe and trustworthy AI systems.”

Raimondo said she is frequently asked if AI will “eliminate the human race.”

She pushes back on that, saying right now we are in control and in the “early innings.”

“We are in charge of how we develop and use and regulate AI. So I feel that way about the election. And it’s on us, right now, to do the right things.”

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Luke Barr