• Wednesday, May 22, 2024


China may misuse AI to target polls in US and India: Microsoft

Microsoft has raised concerns about China potentially exploiting Artificial Intelligence (AI) to influence elections in countries like India, South Korea, and the US.

Election Commission data revealed varying voter turnout percentages across states. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Microsoft has raised concerns about China potentially exploiting Artificial Intelligence (AI) to influence elections in countries like India, South Korea, and the US.

“With major elections taking place around the world this year, particularly in India, South Korea, and the United States, we assess that China will, at a minimum, create and amplify AI-generated content to benefit its interests,” Clint Watts, General Manager, Microsoft Threat Analysis Center, said in a blog post.

The general elections in India will be held in seven phases from April 19 to June 1, and the counting of votes will be done on June 4. South Koreans will go to the polls in a general election on April 10 while the US will hold the Presidential election on November 5.

The report also highlighted North Korea’s involvement in such activities, including cryptocurrency heists and supply chain attacks. These are among the Microsoft Threat Intelligence insights in the latest East Asia report published on Wednesday by the Microsoft Threat Analysis Center (MTAC).

The report says China’s strategy might involve using fake social media accounts to influence public opinion and divide voters, while North Korea focuses on enhancing its cyber capabilities and military goals.

“Despite the chances of such content in affecting election results remaining low, China’s increasing experimentation in augmenting memes, videos, and audio will likely continue – and may prove more effective down the line,” Watts said.

“Meanwhile, as populations in India, South Korea, and the United States head to the polls, we are likely to see Chinese cyber and influence actors, and to some extent, North Korean cyber actors, work toward targeting these elections,” the report said.

The report said that China has also increased its use of AI-generated content to further its goals around the world.

“While Chinese cyber actors have long conducted reconnaissance of US political institutions, we are prepared to see influence actors interact with Americans for engagement and to potentially research perspectives on US politics,” Watts said.

“Finally, as North Korea embarks upon new government policies and pursues ambitious plans for weapons testing, we can expect increasingly sophisticated cryptocurrency heists and supply chain attacks targeted at the defense sector, serving to both funnel money into the regime and facilitate the development of new military capabilities,” it added.

The Taiwanese presidential election in January 2024 saw a surge in the use of AI-generated content to augment IO operations by CCP-affiliated actors. This was the first time that Microsoft Threat Intelligence has witnessed a nation-state actor using AI content in attempts to influence a foreign election, said the blog post.

“The group we call Storm-1376, also known as Spamouflage and Dragonbridge, was the most prolific. For example, on election day, it posted suspected AI-generated fake audio of Foxconn owner and election candidate Terry Gou (who had bowed out of the contest in November 2023) endorsing another candidate in the presidential race. Gou had made no such statement. YouTube quickly removed this content before it reached a wider audience,” said the report.


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