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Tuesday, February 6, 2024

A new weapon for hate

AI-Powered Bad Actors: A Looming Threat for 2024 and Beyond


A study forecasts that by mid-2024, bad actors are expected to increasingly utilize AI in their daily activities. The research, conducted by Neil F. Johnson and his team, involves an exploration of online communities associated with hatred. 

Their methodology includes searching for terminology listed in the Anti-Defamation League Hate Symbols Database, as well as identifying groups flagged by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

From an initial list of “bad-actor” communities found using these terms, the authors assess communities linked to by the bad-actor communities. The authors repeat this procedure to generate a network map of bad-actor communities—and the more mainstream online groups they link to.

Mainstream Communities Categorized as “Distrust Subset”

Some mainstream communities are categorized as belonging to a “distrust subset” if they host significant discussion of COVID-19, MPX, abortion, elections, or climate change. Using the resulting map of the current online bad-actor “battlefield,” which includes more than 1 billion individuals, the authors project how AI may be used by these bad actors.

The authors predict that bad actors will increasingly use AI to continuously push toxic content onto mainstream communities using early iterations of AI tools, as these programs have fewer filters designed to prevent their usage by bad actors and are freely available programs small enough to fit on a laptop.

AI-Powered Attacks Almost Daily by Mid-2024

The authors predict that such bad-actor-AI attacks will occur almost daily by mid-2024—in time to affect U.S. and other global elections. The authors emphasize that as AI is still new, their predictions are necessarily speculative, but hope that their work will nevertheless serve as a starting point for policy discussions about managing the threats of bad-actor-AI.

Reference: “Controlling bad-actor-artificial intelligence activity at scale across online battlefields” by Neil F Johnson, Richard Sear and Lucia Illari, 23 January 2024, PNAS Nexus.
DOI: 10.1093/pnasnexus/pgae004