Could organisations use artificial intelligence language models such as ChatGPT to induce voters to behave in specific ways?
Senator Josh Hawley asked OpenAI CEO Sam Altman this question in a May 16 US Senate hearing on artificial intelligence. Altman replied that he was indeed concerned that some people might use language models to manipulate, persuade and engage in one-on-one interactions with voters.
Altman did not elaborate, but he might have had something like this scenario in mind. Imagine that soon, political technologists develop a machine called Clogger – a political campaign in a black box. Clogger relentlessly pursues just one objective: to maximise the chances that its candidate – the campaign that buys the services of Clogger Inc – prevails in an election.
While platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube use forms of AI to get users to spend more time on their sites, Clogger’s AI would have a different objective: to change people’s voting behavior.
How Clogger will work
As a political scientist and a legal scholar who study the intersection of technology and democracy, we believe that something like Clogger could use automation to dramatically increase the scale and potentially the effectiveness of behavior manipulation and microtargeting techniques that political campaigns have used since the early 2000s.
Just as advertisers use your browsing and social media history to…