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UK deputy PM leads worldwide drive to defend elections from AI, disinformation

British Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden arrives for the second day of the UK Artificial Intelligence (AI) Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, Britain, November 2, 2023

SEOUL, March 19 (mod1s) - Democratic nations throughout the globe should work together to combat the danger of AI exploited by hostile governments to disrupt democratic elections and propagate disinformation, British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden said on Tuesday. 

In Seoul for the Summit for Democracy, Dowden on Monday presented what he thinks would be a "groundbreaking" new global government agreement on preventing fraudulent use of artificial intelligence by foreign powers in elections.

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. 

Details of the agreement are still being worked out, but Dowden claimed numerous nations have signed on, without identifying any. 

Citing how key technology firms agreed at the Munich Security Conference in February to coordinate responses against AI-generated deepfakes that actively fool voters, Dowden said it is time for governments to follow likewise.

"What the UK is leading on is a government-led process, a government-led agreement to tackle the threat from AI from foreign states," he said in an interview at the UK Embassy in Seoul. 

Britain has been enmeshed in a discussion about a modified image of Kate, Princess of Wales, for which she apologized after many big news agencies, including Reuters, pulled the picture claiming post-publication research that proved it did not satisfy editorial standards. 

Dowden said the occurrence is "totally separate" from the disinformation dangers from "malign foreign states" aiming to meddle in democratic elections. 

The agreement "is not about the internal politics of each individual nation states that's rightly a matter for nation states", he added. 

The concerns from AI come amid other challenges to freedom and democracy throughout the globe, Dowden added. 

"For me the number one threat to democracy right now is the war that's going on in Ukraine," he stated. "That's why I think the discussions going on today have that added edge, because of the threats we face to democracy right now."

Dowden said he was highly worried about the suspected weapons deliveries from North Korea to Russia, and urged on Moscow to quit intervening on the Korean peninsula. 

Pyongyang and Moscow have built tighter ties since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia in September and agreed to enhance military connections. They refute Western charges that North Korea is providing Russia with artillery rounds and missiles used in Putin's invasion of Ukraine.


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