Growing Policymaker Attention to AI and Election Security

Last month, we highlighted the announcement of the Tech Accord to Combat Deceptive Use of AI in 2024 Elections—an initiative from the technology industry, including Microsoft. Policymakers—as well as law enforcement officials—are also taking steps to understand and address this challenge. This week, the Associated Press published a deep-dive look at this issue around the world. AI has already been used deceptively in elections in central Europe, Bangladesh, and the U.S. FBI Director Christopher Wray recently said that advances in generative AI make it easier for “foreign adversaries to engage in malign influence.” To help support election security and integrity worldwide, Microsoft has established its Democracy Forward program and assists candidates with identifying and responding to deepfakes.

Thank you for reading. You’ll find our roundup of tech policy news below—and be sure to check out the featured podcast with former Microsoft data scientist John Kahan.

This Week in Washington 

  • CBS News and The Washington Post: The U.S. House passed a bill, 352-65, that would force the Chinese company ByteDance to sell the video sharing platform TikTok, or ban the app in the U.S. if the subsidiary isn’t spun off. The White House has said it will sign the bill into law, but the U.S. Senate is unlikely to take any action in the near term. And, legal battles would loom: should the bill be signed into law, it would almost certainly end up challenged in federal court.
  • CyberScoop and Nextgov/FCW: In the fiscal year 2025 budget, President Biden is calling for $15 billion in cybersecurity funding, and additional investments for federal agencies to help bolster their digital defenses. The budget also includes an ask for $3 billion so federal agencies can responsibly develop, test, procure, and integrate AI applications, and another $300 million to increase agency funding for emerging technology.
  • CyberScoop: A report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology on improving the resilience of critical infrastructure gained the approval of top cybersecurity experts for its focus on better funding for agencies that help protect against cyberattacks. 
  • Nextgov/FCW: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released its software development attestation form, which is meant to enforce secure by design principles and requires contractors to detail the minimum security standards used in software that interacts with government systems.
  • Nextgov/FCW: U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) is championing the National Quantum Initiative Reauthorization Act, needed after 2018 legislation that funded federal research into quantum computing expired at the end of fiscal year 2023. The 2024 version of the bill to fund quantum computing research acknowledges the role of artificial intelligence in quantum sciences and technology research. The bill passed the committee unanimously in November, and Rep. Lucas is urging House leaders to bring it to the floor for passage and Senate consideration.

Article Summary

  • The Wall Street Journal: Meta announced that it will decommission CrowdTangle, a data tool used by academic researchers, journalists, and others to monitor the spread of content on Facebook and Instagram. They will replace it with a new tool called the Meta Content Library, which will be available only to academic and non-profit researchers, cutting out most news outlets.
  •  Axios: According to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, most teens are not worried about their technology and social media use, and think the benefits of smartphones outweigh the harms. However, they also found that at least some want to cut back on their use.
  • The Daily Beast: Language learning apps have changed over the last decade, and now, many of them champion the use of AI as the most effective way for people to learn a language at home. 
  • The New York Times: Covariant, a robotics company founded by three former OpenAI researchers, is utilizing the technology development methods behind AI chatbots to build technology that can navigate in the physical world. They are currently creating ways for robots to pick up, move, and sort items as they move through warehouses and distribution centers.
  • StateScoop: A recent report from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers emphasized how data literacy has become an “essential competency” and laid out tips that state governments can follow to improve theirs. 
  • The Columbus Dispatch and Telecompetitor: Rural Ohio broadband is getting a boost thanks to a $100 million state grant that will help connect parts of its service territory in Appalachia. Oregon is also expanding its broadband services, with its Broadband Office expected to begin accepting applications for $149 million to help bring high-speed internet to unserved and underserved locations.

Featured Podcast

Microsoft Alumni Network

  • Beyond the Blue Badge
    In his last role at Microsoft, John Kahan headed up what would become Microsoft’s AI for Good efforts. To this day, John continues to use data and AI to help solve the world’s problems whether it’s via his work with Aaron Matthew SIDS Research Foundation at Seattle Children’s hospital or advising organizations that include U.S. Venture, MidOcean Partners, Stagwell, Novartis Foundation and the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. In this episode of Beyond the Blue Badge, host Rich Kaplan talks with John about advances in data science, AI for Good, and the evolution of artificial intelligence. (How data science and generative AI are changing the world — for good – March 6, 2024)