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AI on campaign

TECHNOLOGY | FEC considers reining in AI-assisted political ads


Three AI-generated images were used in the pro-DeSantis ad. DeSantis War Room

AI on campaign
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The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is ­dipping its toes into the debate over regulation of artificial intelligence (AI). The regulatory body voted Aug. 10 to open up a petition by advocacy group Public Citizen for public comment, beginning a process that could lead to new rules for political campaign ads. The petition calls on the FEC to ban candidates and political parties from misrepresenting their opponents via AI.

Political groups are already using AI in ads: In June, a campaign account affiliated with Gov. Ron DeSantis shared AI-generated images of former President Donald Trump embracing former chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci. In July, Never Back Down, a super PAC supporting DeSantis, used AI in an ad to mimic Trump’s voice. The PAC reportedly spent $1 million to run the ad. The Republican National Committee also used AI in April to create a 30-second video ad forecasting a dark future if President Joe Biden is reelected—including fake images of China invading Taiwan and ­soldiers on the streets of San Francisco. The RNC ad included a small disclaimer noting it was “built entirely with AI imagery.” (The other ads had no disclaimer.)

FEC Commissioner Allen Dickerson, a Republican, voted to open the period for public comment, but he said he’s unconvinced that Congress has given the FEC authority to regulate AI-generated content. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said she would introduce a bill clarifying the FEC’s authority. Klobuchar has also put forward a measure that would require campaigns to disclose AI use.


Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

San Francisco opens roads to robotaxis

Robotaxi operators Waymo and Cruise can now launch 24/7, paid driverless rides in San Francisco. The California Public Utilities Commission voted 3–1 to grant both companies ­permits on Aug. 10. Previously, Cruise was only allowed to charge for ­driverless rides in certain areas of the city between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., while Waymo could operate anywhere but couldn’t charge for rides.

Regulators placed no ­limits on the number of cars either company may operate. Waymo currently operates about 250 autonomous cars in the city, while Cruise has 400. San Francisco residents disagreed at the commission hearing—some touted the cars’ potential to increase tourism and accessibility, while others raised safety concerns. The city has logged approximately 600 traffic incidents involving driverless vehicles since June 2022. On Aug. 15, a Cruise driverless car rolled into wet concrete and got stuck. —E.R.


Elizabeth Russell

Elizabeth is a reporter and editorial assistant at WORLD. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

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