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South Korea sponsored meeting warns of AI hazards to democracy

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol talks at an opening ceremony for the 3rd Summit for Democracy in Seoul, South Korea 18 March 2024

SEOUL, March 18 (mod1s) - South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Monday labeled false news and misinformation based on AI and digital technologies challenges to democracy, as some leaders attending a global conference accused Russia and China of waging destructive propaganda efforts. 

Speaking at the opening of the Summit for Democracy being held in Seoul, Yoon said nations had a responsibility to exchange experiences and insights so that artificial intelligence and technology could be deployed to advance democracy.

"Fake news and disinformation based on artificial intelligence and digital technology not only violates individual freedom and human rights but also threatens democratic systems," Yoon added. 

South Korea is holding the third Summit for Democracy meeting, an initiative of U.S. President Joe Biden aimed at addressing measures to stem democratic backsliding and loss of rights and freedoms. 

Digital dangers to democracy, and how technology may support democracy and fundamental human rights, are scheduled to be the core focus of the three-day conference, attended by delegates from more than 30 nations, ranging from Costa Rica to the United States and Ghana.

"As authoritarian and repressive regimes deploy technologies to undermine democracy and human rights, we need to ensure that technology sustains and supports democratic values and norms," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the summit, opens new tab. 

Blinken subsequently claimed 2024 was a "extraordinary election year" to highlight hazards of misinformation and lies in internet. He also echoed Washington's assertions that Russia and China are behind worldwide efforts aimed at influencing information.

Some European politicians also accused Russia of launching misinformation operations using AI. 

"The only thing more gruesome than the Russian actions during their ongoing invasion of Ukraine is the disgusting web of lies spun by Russian propaganda, accelerated by social media, deep fake techniques and omnipresent bots," said Robert Kupiecki, undersecretary of state at Poland's foreign ministry.

The Kremlin has constantly refuted charges of distributing incorrect or misleading material. 

A representative for China's embassy in Washington had said it was "typical bias and double standard to allege that the pro-China contents and reports are 'disinformation', and to call the anti-China ones 'true information'". 

Hours before the meeting began, North Korea launched six short-range ballistic missiles into the sea for the first time in two months in its latest display of might. 

The meeting also took up immediately after Russian President Vladimir Putin was proclaimed winner in a historic post-Soviet landslide in a presidential election on Sunday. 

The outcome means Putin, who ascended to power in 1999, is ready to start a second six-year term that would see him eclipse Josef Stalin and become Russia's longest-serving leader in more than 200 years if he completes it. 

A White House National Security Council official denounced the election and claimed they were "obviously not free nor fair given how Mr. Putin has imprisoned political opponents and prevented others from running against him". 

Putin told reporters he saw Russia's election as democratic and that rallies staged by followers of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died in an Arctic jail last month, against him had no influence on the poll's result. 

The democracy conference is also being addressed by British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, who warned democracy faced attacks on numerous fronts, including cyberattackers interrupting campaigns, populists accepting lies, and "autocrats holding sham elections." 

Blinken said Washington was publishing the first advice of its kind for digital firms to assist avoid assaults on human rights activists online. 

In addition, he claimed during the conference that a half-dozen additional nations, including South Korea and Japan, were joining a U.S.-led assault on the exploitation of commercial spyware to wiretap journalists or human rights campaigners.


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