China can disrupt India, US elections with AI use: Microsoft

China is poised to disrupt elections in the United States, South Korea, and India using artificial intelligence-generated content this year, following a trial run during Taiwan’s presidential election, according to a warning from Microsoft. The tech giant predicts that Chinese state-sponsored cyber groups, possibly with involvement from North Korea, will focus on prominent elections in 2024, as detailed in a report by Microsoft’s threat intelligence team released on Friday.

The report anticipates that Chinese and, to a lesser extent, North Korean cyber actors will aim to influence these elections by creating and disseminating AI-generated content through social media platforms to favor their agendas. While the current impact of such content on swaying audiences is deemed low, Microsoft cautions that this could change as China further explores the use of AI in crafting memes, videos, and audio content.

Microsoft highlights China’s previous attempt at an AI-generated disinformation campaign during the Taiwan presidential election in January, marking the first instance of a state-backed entity employing AI-made content to sway a foreign election. The Beijing-backed group, Storm 1376, deployed various tactics, including posting fabricated audio on YouTube and circulating AI-generated memes targeting candidates.

Furthermore, Microsoft notes ongoing efforts by Chinese groups to influence U.S. audiences through social media platforms, aiming to understand and exploit divisions among American voters. The report points to examples of divisive posts on X (formerly Twitter), discussing bipartisan bills and incidents under the Biden administration.

This warning from Microsoft comes amid heightened concerns about cybersecurity, particularly regarding state-sponsored cyber operations. Recent incidents, such as the breach of email accounts of senior U.S. officials attributed to Chinese cyber operators, underscore the evolving threats posed by such actors.

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