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Over the past few years, political commentators have become more and more concerned about voters’ susceptibility to lies and misinformation. You can even say that the theme is cool again! Although some of us have been warned of these risks Long before the rise of Trump. The latest concern is misinformation generated by artificial intelligence. This innovation will likely make misinformation appear more credible than previous technologies did!

Recently insightful Bloomberg column (Unfortunately paywalled), economist Tyler Cowen, my colleague at George Mason University, suggests that concerns about AI-related misinformation may be overblown — not because voters can easily understand it, but because misinformation doesn’t have to be complicated. Extremely to deceive those who are so inclined. charity:

I have a prediction: AI-generated misinformation won’t be a big problem in the 2024 campaign. But that’s only because many other forms of misinformation are already widespread.

If we speak in economic terms, the problem with disinformation is demand, not supply. Consider, for example, the view that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. To explain what happened in simple terms, there was demand for this misinformation, specifically from some aggrieved Trump supporters, and there was also… SupplyMost notably from Trump himself. Supply met demand, the issue was central and profound, and misinformation persists to this day.

No one needed an AI-generated fake video of government officials rigging ballots…. Even simpler technologies, like image manipulation, were not driving the fake news. Instead, the crucial element was that many Trump supporters wanted to believe that their candidate had been wronged, and thus Trump presented a victim narrative. Unfortunately, there was no need for any evidence or even false evidence – objective evidence against Trump Not broken Support him….

Misinformation, in many cases, is essentially a low-tech product.

I’ve been making similar points for years (e.g. here , here , and here ). The root of the problem of political misinformation is not that deception is too sophisticated or that certain new technology (such as social media) makes it easier to produce and spread, but that voters have little incentive to seek and evaluate the truth. Information objectively. Many act instead as biased “political fans” Embracing any ideas – including ridiculous conspiracy theories – supports their pre-existing views and prejudices.

Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” about the 2020 election is a particularly blatant example of this phenomenon. But there are many other cases, including some that disproportionately attract left-wing voters compared to right-wing voters. It would be a mistake to assume that this phenomenon is limited to any side of the political spectrum, even if the political right – at this moment in history – may be even worse.

The problem goes beyond that It is exacerbated by the enormous size, scope, and complexity of modern governmentThis makes it difficult for even knowledgeable and relatively conscientious voters to gain more than a very superficial understanding of most political issues. Voters who are ignorant of the basic structure of government and how most specific policies work are more vulnerable to various types of deception and misinformation.

in Recent article, I address different strategies for mitigating political ignorance and bias, and argue that the best approach to addressing widespread voter ignorance and bias is to empower people to make more decisions by “voting with their feet” and reducing their numbers at the ballot box. The voters have provided Much better incentives To seek accurate and objectively evaluate information from voters at the polls as well. But I realize there are other potential strategies as well She points out that some are worth pursuing as well.

Whatever our opinion of the potential solutions, the beginning of wisdom is to realize that the problem is rooted in demand, much more than supply. It long predates artificial intelligence and other modern technologies, and it is not even clear that they have made it much worse than before.

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