Manufacturing Deceit: How Generative AI Supercharges Information Manipulation

June 20, 2024
10:00 am - 11:00 am

About the Event

Authoritarian actors have long worked to undermine democracy at a global scale by manipulating the information space, but the recent emergence of faster, more expansive, and potentially more potent “generative AI” technologies is creating new risks. With more than fifty national elections around the globe taking place in 2024, the stakes this year are particularly high. Given these challenges, this report explores the following questions: how is generative AI helping authoritarians tip the scales against democracy and accelerate harmful narratives in a wide variety of country contexts? And how are civil society organizations using the same set of tools to push back?

On June 20th, Christopher Walker (National Endowment for Democracy), Adam Fivenson (International Forum for Democratic Studies), author Beatriz Saab (Democracy Reporting International), Nighat Dad (Digital Rights Foundation), and Vittoria Elliott (WIRED) joined the Forum for a virtual discussion on how generative AI supercharges information manipulation. This event marked the launch of the new Forum report, “Manufacturing Deceit: How Generative AI Supercharges Information Manipulation,” by Beatriz Saab.

Speakers

Christopher Walker is vice president for studies and analysis at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. In this capacity, he oversees the department responsible for NED’s multifaceted analytical work. He is an expert on authoritarian regimes, and has been at the forefront of the discussion on authoritarian influence on open systems, including through what he terms “sharp power.” His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including the Financial TimesWall Street JournalNew York TimesWashington PostForeign Affairs, and the Journal of Democracy. He is co-editor (with Larry Diamond and Marc Plattner) of the edited volume Authoritarianism Goes Global: The Challenge to Democracy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), and co-editor (with Jessica Ludwig) of the report Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence (NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies, 2017) and Sharp Power and Democratic Resilience (International Forum for Democratic Studies, 2021).

Beatriz Saab is a Digital Democracy Research Officer at Democracy Reporting International, a nonprofit organization based in Berlin. She is involved in projects that monitor digital platforms, identify information manipulation and harmful speech, and examine the impact of artificial intelligence on democratic discourse online. She also offers training on these topics to other organizations. In addition, she is part of advocacy groups that ensure the effective regulation of digital platforms in the European Union. She holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the Hertie School in Berlin.

Nighat Dad is the founder and Executive Director of Digital Rights Foundation, a nonprofit working on digital freedoms in Pakistan. Her work focuses on digital rights, particularly data protection, free speech online and online violence. She identifies as a feminist and works to empower women in the Global South through the use of digital technology. She is the recipient of the prestigious Human Rights Tulip Award. She is also a TED Fellow and one of TIME’s Next Generation Leaders.

Vittoria Elliott is a reporter for WIRED, covering platforms and power. She was previously a reporter at Rest of World, where she covered disinformation and labor in markets outside the US and Western Europe. She has worked with The New Humanitarian, Al Jazeera, and ProPublica. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and, before transitioning to journalism, worked with startups in Kenya and India.

Adam Fivenson serves as Senior Program Officer for Information Space Integrity within the International Forum for Democratic Studies. His recent work has focused on the civil society response to Kremlin information operations about the full-scale invasion of Ukraine; authoritarian information manipulation in Latin America; and the impact of generative AI on elections and democracy. Prior to joining NED, Adam advised democratic governments, social enterprises and nonprofits on communication, technology and data strategy, and served as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Just Security.


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