~ Video of Senator Hirono’s full question line is available here ~
Sen. Hirono: “It is a powerful tool that can be used for good, but it can also be used to spread a lot of disinformation and misinformation, and that happened during the disaster on Maui.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned a panel of experts about how artificial intelligence (AI) has been used to spread disinformation and sow mistrust in the federal government during times of disaster, specifically in the wake of the Maui wildfires. During her question line, Senator Hirono emphasized her concern about the role AI could play in disseminating disinformation and misinformation following future disasters.
“It is a powerful tool that can be used for good, but it can also be used to spread a lot of disinformation and misinformation, and that happened during the disaster on Maui,” said Senator Hirono during the hearing. “Maui residents were subject to disinformation—some of it coming from foreign governments, i.e., Russia—looking to sow confusion and distrust, including, ‘Don’t sign up for FEMA because they cannot be trusted.’ And I worry that with AI, such information will only become more rampant with future disasters.”
Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President of the Microsoft Corporation, echoed Senator Hirono’s concerns. In his testimony, Mr. Smith denounced the spread of Russian and Chinese disinformation, which aimed to discourage people impacted by the Maui fires from accessing federal disaster relief and promote conspiracies that the fire was caused by the U.S. government using a meteorological weapon, respectively.
Senator Hirono also inquired about how this use of AI can be identified and combatted in order to prevent foreign entities, such as actors from China and Russia, from circulating disinformation and misinformation to other vulnerable communities in the future.
A link to download video of Senator Hirono’s full question line is available here.