New Research Forecasts Rise in Bad Actor AI Activity during Global Elections


With more than 50 nations scheduled to hold national elections in the coming year, concerns about the potential misuse of artificial intelligence (AI) by bad actors to disseminate and amplify disinformation have reached an all-time high. In response, a team of researchers from the George Washington University has conducted a groundbreaking study that predicts a significant increase in bad actor AI activity, potentially impacting the outcome of elections. This study, published in the journal PNAS Nexus, marks the first quantitative scientific analysis aimed at predicting the global misuse of AI by bad actors.

Neil Johnson, the lead author of the study and a professor of physics at GW, emphasizes the importance of understanding the threat posed by AI in order to effectively combat it. Prior to this research, a lack of scientific knowledge surrounding this issue hindered progress in addressing the dangers of AI. Professor Johnson compares the situation to a battle, stating that winning requires an in-depth understanding of the battlefield.

The predictions made in the study indicate that by mid-2024, the frequency of bad actor AI activity will intensify, heightening the risk of its influence on election outcomes. This forecast adds urgency to the need for proactive measures to combat the misuse of AI.

The researchers’ paper, titled “Controlling bad-actor-AI activity at scale across online battlefields,” serves as a framework for developing strategies to curb the proliferation of AI-driven disinformation campaigns. By analyzing historical data and patterns, the study provides insights into the tactics employed by bad actors to manipulate public opinion and sway election results.

The researchers believe that one of the key factors contributing to the escalation of bad actor AI activity is the ease of access to AI tools and techniques. As AI technologies become more accessible and affordable, the potential for misuse grows exponentially. Consequently, it is imperative to implement measures that restrict access to AI tools among malicious actors.

Given the anticipated surge in AI-driven disinformation campaigns, the need for enhanced transparency and accountability in online platforms becomes evident. These platforms should adopt stronger measures to identify and flag suspicious AI-driven content, thereby preventing its widespread dissemination.

In addition, the study highlights the importance of collaboration between technology companies, governing bodies, and civil society organizations to develop effective countermeasures against bad actor AI activity. By partnering with AI experts, policymakers can gain valuable insights and devise regulations to prevent the misuse of AI during elections.

Furthermore, educating the public about the potential risks associated with AI-driven disinformation campaigns is crucial. Increasing awareness among citizens enables them to identify and critically evaluate misleading information, thereby mitigating the impact of disinformation on their decision-making processes.

The study’s findings underscore the need for a holistic approach to tackle the rising threat of bad actor AI activity. Combining technological advancements, regulatory efforts, and public awareness campaigns will contribute to safeguarding the integrity of electoral processes around the world.

As the global community enters a period marked by multiple elections, it is essential to act promptly to prevent the harmful consequences that bad actor AI activity may have on democratic processes. By understanding the battlefield and implementing proactive measures, societies can strive for fair and transparent elections, safeguarding the integrity of democracy.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it