Jan 15, 2024

Taiwan’s Election Is Over. What Does This Mean for the Rest of the Year?

Person walking forward

The people of Taiwan have spoken.

Lai Ching-te will be the country’s new president, assuming office on May 20th. Despite the rampancy of disinformation and deepfakes during the election cycle — some of which were discovered by a client using Reality Defender’s platform — a pro-democracy, pro-independence candidate will usher in a tense new stage of relations between the country and Beijing.

Many in our world and in the political sphere saw this election as a barometer of sorts, signifying what could happen in the American presidential election later this year. Taiwan is an increasingly crucial part of the conversation regarding China’s expansion, relations between western countries and China, and potential (future) international conflicts.

Though we at Reality Defender do not look at onus or intent in distribution and dissemination of deepfakes, we still understand why Taiwan and their election are so hotly discussed, and thus a prime target for disinformation-driven deepfakes and AI-generated propaganda. Fortunately, such content had no immediately apparent material impact on the election’s result.

What does this mean for the U.S. Presidential Election?

No one truly knows for sure. 

To look at Taiwan’s election, see the lack of (significant) impact deepfakes and GenAI made on it, and take a sigh of relief for the rest of the year would be foolhardy. One only needs to look at the 2016 and 2020 elections to see that bad actors and state-sponsored attackers will use their abundance of resources and every tool imaginable to sway public opinion online and elsewhere. These same attackers and teams are now armed with tools that can fool even the most media literate among us, leading to decidedly different and unfathomable scenarios from, say, the fake news farms that plagued social media in 2016.

On the technology side of things, we have already armed clients with best-in-class tools to combat these threats across all media types in their spaces, always improving and updating our platform and models to account for tomorrow’s threats as or before they become threats. This is what Reality Defender was built for since the beginning: detecting content of models and tools we know exist, while building solutions to detect the advanced threats that could appear tomorrow. (We attribute this minor foresight to our extensive research team, always clued into what may appear in the world of AI tomorrow.) 

As for geopolitical events that could, may, or may not happen, we are working extensively with institutions, enterprises, and experts across all sectors and avenues to lend our expertise and do what we can. This ethos was also with our company from the start. After all, if we defend against deepfakes for government, finance, and media clients, we can also lend our expertise in every/any possible way to thwart AI-based attacks on crucial societal tenets.

2024 will be the most important year in preserving democracy, norms, and truth. This is not solely because of the critical elections and ever-advancing AI (and subsequent access to related tools). The bedrock we set for AI access, bias, truth, and how such tools and technologies are used will determine how we as people and governments function for years to come.

This means bipartisan and multi-government legislation and safeguards against the worst AI theoretically has to offer. It means taking the worst possible threats of tomorrow seriously today and dealing with them before they become tangible problems. It also means cutting through the noise of speculation, defeatism, paralysis, and hyper-alarmism to solve things today for all people. 

It means so many things that require acting now, and I’m fortunate to be on a team ready to help solve the challenges ahead.

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