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AI and the 2024 Elections

This is an excerpt of the article published by the Allen Lab of the Ash Center (HKS).

From misinformation to AI panic, experts joined the Allen Lab’s GETTING-Plurality event to discuss the threats the burgeoning technology poses to democracy.

Balancing privacy and protection

Sandy Pentland, Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT, a Boston Global Forum’s Board Member, focused on the foundational role of identity and reputation in mitigating online threats and establishing trust. Both Allen and Pentland referenced Taiwan as a model for balancing privacy while protecting against disinformation and online crime. There, users are anonymous on digital media but verified as actual humans. Pentland noted that even crypto exchanges now require identification, which is then kept confidential.

“And so, what we have to do is we have to think about, ‘Can we do that in media?’” Pentland asked. “And the answer is pretty [much] yes. We have most of the infrastructure there already to do it.” He contended that the mechanisms used in Taiwan and in crypto exchanges offer a way to understand whom one interacts with without compromising privacy. “I would suggest that we have this sort of fairly radical principle: a complete anonymity in opposition to the ability to track down bad guys and have some sort of knowledge of who it is that we’re dealing with.”

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