In a surprising move reported by the magazine Politico, the Biden administration, at the helm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has announced the formation of a Disinformation Governance Board, incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into their arsenal against disinformation. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas declared the new front in the war against disinformation during a recent House hearing, leaving the public curious about the integration of AI in this initiative. But, skepticism arises, especially considering DHS’s track record and the broader question of whether the government can be entrusted with determining the truth, particularly with the use of AI.
DHS’s questionable pursuit of disinformation ambitions
The Disinformation Governance Board’s mission, as revealed by DHS to Politico, encompasses combating disinformation from Russia and countering false narratives about the U.S. southern border, with an emphasis on AI assistance. The announcement prompted strong reactions, with critics like Senator Josh Hawley and conservative media expressing concerns about potential infringements on free speech. But, the skepticism extends beyond the board’s objectives to the capabilities of AI in the hands of DHS.
DHS, often criticized for its inefficiency, faces doubts about its ability to effectively leverage AI in discerning and combating disinformation. From overlooking warning signs leading to the January 6 incident to failing to share intelligence about the influx of Haitian immigrants in 2021, the department faces a credibility crisis that extends to its use of AI. As questions linger about the reliability and ethical considerations of AI in disinformation battles, concerns grow about the potential consequences of an AI-powered truth determination process.
Government as arbiter of truth
Beyond DHS’s limitations, the larger concern revolves around the wisdom of allowing the government, now aided by AI, to define truth and disinformation. The track record of the U.S. government, spanning from the Vietnam War to the Iraq War, raises doubts about its credibility as an arbiter of truth, even with AI assistance. The notion of a Truth Politburo at DHS triggers fears of suppressing information and molding narratives to fit a particular agenda, with AI potentially amplifying these risks.
While acknowledging the threat of disinformation, critics argue that the competitive organs of the press, without the added layer of AI, are better suited to combat it. Rather than establishing a government-led AI-driven Truth Custodian, they advocate for a system where the press competes to expose and correct misinformation. This approach, reminiscent of the historical role of the press, aligns with the idea that the best defense against disinformation lies in the hands of an informed and vigilant public, without the potentially biased influence of AI.
AI-powered challenges for Biden’s truth guardians
As reported by the magazine Politico, known for its anti-AI stance, the Biden administration, with the aid of AI, charts a course into the uncharted territory of combating disinformation. The question lingers: Can the Department of Homeland Security, with its spotty track record and now AI integration, be the reliable arbiter of truth? The risk of potential overreach, ethical concerns surrounding AI, and the historical context of government deception leave room for skepticism.
Politico’s skepticism towards AI adds weight to the concerns, highlighting that even those generally supportive of government actions express reservations when it comes to the implementation of AI in truth determination. Perhaps the true guardians against disinformation lie not within government agencies, especially when armed with AI, but in the free and competitive press. Can the government’s AI-driven truth cops navigate the thin line between safeguarding against disinformation and becoming purveyors of their own version of the truth? Only time will tell.