China is turning to artificial intelligence to irritate American voters and stoke divisions ahead of the 2024 presidential elections, according to a new report.
Microsoft threat analysts warned in a blog post on Thursday that Beijing has developed a new artificial intelligence capability capable of producing “eye-catching content” that is more likely to go viral than previous Chinese influence operations.
According to Microsoft, this six-month effort appears to use AI generators, capable of both producing visually stunning images and improving them over time.
“We have observed China-affiliated actors leverage AI-generated visual media in a broad campaign that largely focuses on politically controversial topics, such as gun violence and the disparagement of American political figures and symbols,” said said Microsoft.
“We can expect China to continue perfecting this technology over time, although it remains to be seen how and when it will deploy it at scale,” he adds.
China on Thursday rejected Microsoft’s findings.
“In recent years, some Western media outlets and think tanks have accused China of using artificial intelligence to create fake social media accounts to spread so-called ‘pro-China’ information,” the spokesperson said. word of the Chinese Embassy, Liu Pengyu, in an email to VOA. “Such remarks are full of prejudice and malicious speculation against China, which China firmly opposes.”
According to Microsoft, actors linked to the Chinese government appear to be spreading the AI-generated images on social media while impersonating American voters of all political persuasions. The focus was on issues related to race, economic issues and ideology.
In one instance, Microsoft researchers pointed to an image of the Statue of Liberty altered to show Lady Liberty holding both her traditional torch and what appears to be a machine gun.
The image is titled ‘The Goddess of Violence’, with another line of text warning that democracy and freedom are ‘thrown away’.
But the researchers say there are clear signs the image was produced using AI, including the presence of more than five fingers on one of the statue’s hands.
Be that as it may, the first elements show that these efforts are bearing fruit.
“This relatively high-quality visual content has already driven higher levels of engagement from genuine social media users,” according to a Microsoft report published alongside the blog post.
“Users reposted these visuals more frequently, despite common AI generation indicators,” the report adds.
Additionally, Microsoft’s report states that China is portraying Chinese state media employees as “independent social media influencers.”
These influencers, who appear on most Western social media sites, tend to spread both lifestyle-oriented content and propaganda aimed at localized audiences.
Microsoft reports that influencers have so far built an audience of at least 103 million across 40 languages.