A national survey conducted by the Elon Poll and Elon University’s Imagining the Digital Future Center, Elon University’s research initiative about the impact of the digital revolution, found that 78% of American adults expect that abuses of artificial intelligence systems will affect the outcome of the 2024 presidential election

Director of the Imagining Digital Future Center Lee Rainie said that focusing the study around this upcoming election cycle was a key factor. 

“This is going to be the biggest year for democracy in human history,” Rainie said. “More countries are having democratic elections this year, than any other year than has ever been documented.” 

According to Rainie, the questionnaire was written by both the Imagining Digital Future Center and the Elon Poll and focused on how AI might be used in the election. 

“We asked a series of questions about the way people were thinking about artificial intelligence and the election and came up with a bunch of findings that are not very happy findings,” Rainie said.

The results also found that 73% of respondents believe AI will be used to manipulate social media, 70% believe AI will be used to generate fake information and 62% believe AI will be used to convince people not to vote. The survey also reported that 69% of the respondents are not confident that most voters can detect fake photos and videos. 

The survey garnered 1,020 participants and focused on the importance of this election cycle. Rainie said that it is important to understand people’s awareness of AI as it becomes more mainstream. 

“Now that artificial intelligence is becoming a very mainstream kind of thing applied to media and applied to social media, we thought it was an important new kind of survey to do,” Rainie said.

With the collection of this new data, Rainie said he hopes that Elon can help spread awareness about AI for not just the Elon community — but for the entire country.

“In a way the message of this survey is be careful, a customer beware thing, so that as students and faculty are engaging with electronic information and reading news — reading all sorts of content about the election — this is probably going to be on people's minds,” Rainie said. “Be careful about what you are hearing and seeing.”

Rainie also said he hopes that this survey can lead to more research about the future of AI and politics.

“We're hoping that we are shedding light on important phenomena and we are illuminating problems that people might not have ever thought about until we started asking them questions about it,” Rainie said.