The influence of AI deepfakes on the UK General Election is a concern for most tech experts, according to a new survey by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

Some 65 per cent of IT professionals polled said they feared AI-generated fakes would affect the result – and they’re calling for technical and policy solutions. Furthermore, 92 per cent of technologists said political parties should agree to publicise where and how they are using AI in their campaigns. 

The two most effective measures for limiting the detrimental impact of deepfakes on democracy will be public education and technical solutions (such as watermarking and labelling), the poll of 1,240 technologists found.

A group of major tech companies signed a pact in February to adopt ‘reasonable precautions’ to prevent AI from being used to disrupt democratic elections around the world.

But only eight per cent of computing professionals in the BCS poll think this agreement will be effective.

Rashik Parmar MBE, Chief Executive of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT said: “Technologists are seriously worried about the impact of deepfakes on the integrity of the general election – but there are things politicians can do to help the public and themselves. 

“Parties should agree between them to clearly state when and how they are using AI in their campaigns. Official sources are just one part of the problem. Bad actors outside the UK and independent activists inside are able to do even more to destabilise things,” he said.

“We need to increase public awareness of how to spot deepfakes, double check sources and think critically about what we’re seeing. We can support that with technical solutions, and the most popular in the poll was a clear labelling consensus where possible – and it would be ideal if this could be done globally with the US election coming too.”

About BCS’ Deepfakes, AI and the General Election survey

The poll was conducted with 1,240 BCS members who responded to the survey between 4 – 17 April 2024.