15 votes

Bots Are Destroying Political Discourse As We Know It

Tags: bots, politics

7 comments

  1. [2]
    skybrian
    Link
    From the article: [...]

    From the article:

    In a recent experiment, the Harvard senior Max Weiss used a text-generation program to create 1,000 comments in response to a government call on a Medicaid issue. These comments were all unique, and sounded like real people advocating for a specific policy position. They fooled the Medicaid.gov administrators, who accepted them as genuine concerns from actual human beings. This being research, Weiss subsequently identified the comments and asked for them to be removed, so that no actual policy debate would be unfairly biased. The next group to try this won’t be so honorable.

    [...]

    Soon, AI-driven personas will be able to write personalized letters to newspapers and elected officials, submit individual comments to public rule-making processes, and intelligently debate political issues on social media. They will be able to comment on social-media posts, news sites, and elsewhere, creating persistent personas that seem real even to someone scrutinizing them. They will be able to pose as individuals on social media and send personalized texts. They will be replicated in the millions and engage on the issues around the clock, sending billions of messages, long and short. Putting all this together, they’ll be able to drown out any actual debate on the internet. Not just on social media, but everywhere there’s commentary.

    9 votes
    1. Diet_Coke
      Link Parent
      Combine this with deepfakes and existing AI ability to generate faces, and it gets legitimately pretty frightening.

      Combine this with deepfakes and existing AI ability to generate faces, and it gets legitimately pretty frightening.

      5 votes
  2. [5]
    MimicSquid
    Link
    Ignore the internet: show up in front of your elected officials and talk to them in person. How else can they know you're actually real?

    Ignore the internet: show up in front of your elected officials and talk to them in person. How else can they know you're actually real?

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      Yes, that's one way but it's inconvenient and selects for people who have a lot of time for politics. I think the way this will go online is that we will somehow get more serious about checking...

      Yes, that's one way but it's inconvenient and selects for people who have a lot of time for politics. I think the way this will go online is that we will somehow get more serious about checking identity to guard against sock-puppetry.

      It's hard to both verify identity and allow anonymous content, but if you squint a bit, this is the same problem as registering voters and making the votes themselves secret. Maybe that system can be extended online somehow?

      It's a hard problem, but if all anonymous commentary is mistrusted then I think that leaves an opening for someone to do better.

      5 votes
      1. MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        Yeah. It leads to some sort of system to track people online and verify that they are who they say they are, but that gets into a lot of people's fears of a social credit system and the misuse...

        Yeah. It leads to some sort of system to track people online and verify that they are who they say they are, but that gets into a lot of people's fears of a social credit system and the misuse thereof. I do think it's the best option, though. A more coherent and verified digital personhood will do a lot to make clear who is and is not actually a stakeholder through citizenship or location. It's vulnerable to abuse, but what system isn't?

        5 votes
    2. [2]
      moocow1452
      Link Parent
      I'm not sure how well that is going to work, considering the number of politicians who have made a career of being unreachable except on their own terms.

      I'm not sure how well that is going to work, considering the number of politicians who have made a career of being unreachable except on their own terms.

      3 votes
      1. MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        That's an excellent reason to vote them out, and an easy argument to make. "Mayor John Smith won't even talk to his constituents! How can he say he cares about our town if he so clearly doesn't...

        That's an excellent reason to vote them out, and an easy argument to make. "Mayor John Smith won't even talk to his constituents! How can he say he cares about our town if he so clearly doesn't care what we have to say?"

        Not to say there aren't plenty of gadflies who would happily waste everyone's time with their pet project/obsession, but there are ways to push for better representation between elections.

        2 votes