How AI companies are reckoning with elections

Wes Davis

The Verge

Mar 19, 2024

The US is heading into its first presidential election since generative AI tools have gone mainstream. And the companies offering these tools — like Google, OpenAI, and Microsoft — have each made announcements about how they plan to handle the months leading up to it.

This election season, we’ve already seen AI-generated images in ads and attempts to mislead voters with voice cloning. The potential harms from AI chatbots aren’t as visible in the public eye — yet, anyway. But chatbots are known to confidently provide made-up facts, including in responses to good-faith questions about basic voting information. In a high-stakes election, that could be disastrous.

One plausible solution is to try to avoid election-related queries altogether. In December, Google announced that Gemini would simply refuse to answer election-related questions in the US, referring users to Google Search instead. Google spokesperson Christa Muldoon confirmed to The Verge via email the change is now rolling out globally. (Of course, that relies on the reliability of Google Search — something the company has been working on with an eye toward AI spam.) Muldoon said Google has “no plans” to lift these restrictions, which she said also “apply to all queries and outputs” generated by Gemini, not just text.