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AI election bill dies in House State Affairs

Kent Osborne
Senate Bill 96 dies in the House.

After a bill prohibiting the use of Artificial Intelligence in election campaigns died in the House State Affairs Committee, some South Dakota lawmakers wonder about the future of political races.

Senate Bill 96 dealt with the use of deepfake in election-related media. The bill defines deepfake as “any image, audio recording, or video recording created or manipulated with the use of artificial intelligence or other digital technology that is so realistic a reasonable person would believe it depicts the speech or conduct of an actual individual who did not in fact engage in the speech or conduct.”

Sen. Liz Larson, D-Minnehaha, sponsored the bill, which would require disclaimers for AI generated media used in elections. The Democrat from Sioux Falls said AI will need to be discussed as it continues to evolve.

“This is going to start happening in our elections, especially as you pointed out in the contentious races” she said. “There can be postcards, social media posts that are, that could, right now in South Dakota, make completely false images of any candidate without any type of problem right now.”

Larson recalled how she played samples of deepfake media when she pitched the bill. The artificially created audio featured a mock Donald Trump saying phrases like “vote for Liz Larson,” and “vote blue in the next election.”

“It got some good laughs, which was great,” Larson said. “But you could not tell, in the beginning that that wasn’t really Donald Trump.”

Other lawmakers said at some point legislation needs to be made to tackle the potential threats of AI.

Veda is an English and journalism major at Augustana University in Sioux Falls. She loves writing and storytelling, and she plans to pursue a career as a journalist after graduation.