So, that’s why I’ve been saying all along that, yes, I’d love to win. But, boy, do these guys want me to. These guys, they don’t talk about it. They say, “Donald Trump, please, please run.” Because they’ll take away your tax cuts, because they’ll take away your regulation cuts. They’ll take them away. And, frankly, really, really bad things will happen with our country. Our country would go down very quickly. Very quickly, very, very rapidly. The Democrats want to turn back the clock, which is, essentially, what they’ve done. They’ve turned back. We’ve gone much further left than anybody thought possible.
The above paragraph was written by an artificial intelligence. We call him “RoboTrump.”
Using this AI, it’s possible to generate an unlimited amount of convincing fake text. Literally millions of lines of text per hour can be generated.
What’s even scarier? Almost no one can tell it’s fake AI-generated text.
We asked 1,000 people to evaluate 20 paragraphs on 10 different political topics. Ten of the paragraphs were written by RoboTrump, and 10 were text from real Trump speeches.
On average, respondents guessed correctly only 40% of the time, or 10% worse than blindly guessing. This is proof of the massive danger presented by this new technology.
Thankfully, for most of our respondents, realizing their error sparked a deep change in their opinion on the dangers of AI-generated text. To understand their change in perspective, we asked them two questions. One before taking our quiz and one after.
- How concerned are you that fake text, written by artificial intelligence, will be used to influence the 2020 election? (Asked before respondents took the quiz)
- Half of the previous passages you read were written by an artificial intelligence trained on President Trump’s speeches. Given this, how concerned are you that fake text written by artificial intelligence will be used to influence the 2020 election? (Asked after the respondents took the quiz)
As you can see in the Sankey diagram below, many respondents changed their mind, moving from less concerned to significantly more concerned.
- After taking the quiz, 432 of the 1,000 respondents (43%) said they were more concerned about the implications of AI-generated text on the 2020 election than prior to taking the quiz.
- Only 116 of the 1,000 respondents (12%) said they were less concerned about the implications of AI-generated text on the 2020 election than before taking the quiz.
After taking the quiz for yourself, it is our hope that you come to the same conclusion as many of our survey respondents:
Convincingly realistic text generated by AI on an unlimited scale is an existential risk to our democracy.
If you haven’t already, test your susceptibility to AI generated fake news with the quiz below:
Did you do poorly? Don’t feel too bad. Remember, on average, our 1,000 respondents did worse than chance, guessing correctly only about 40% of the time. The chart below shows the distribution of correct/incorrect guesses for each category of text, as well as respondents’ overall “score.” To clarify, the survey respondents were quizzed on 20 samples, one real and one AI generated across 10 topical categories: Obamacare, Fake News, Hillary Clinton, Brett Kavanaugh, Democrats, The Economy, Terrorism, North Korea, Putin, The Wall.
WTF – How Can an AI Possibly Write This Well?
So, what’s going on here? Has AI really gotten *that* good at generating realistic text, or does Trump speak in such unintelligible gibberish that he’s extremely easy to mimic?
The truth is likely a little bit of both. While Trump’s rambling style probably makes differentiating between real and fake more difficult than it would be for a more eloquent and talented speaker, today’s new natural language generation AI models have reached a tipping point in their ability to generate fake, real-sounding text.
In September, Salesforce released “CTRL,” a new, state-of-the-art natural language model. This model is larger (likely better), than the full-size GPT-2 model, which Elon Musk’s OpenAI said was “too dangerous to publicly release because of its potential for abuse.”
Then, a few weeks ago, the CTRL model code was updated to allow anyone to “fine-tune” the model. This enabled the ability to train the model on text written by an individual person, which the model could then mimic incredibly well when generating its own made-up text.
Some Populations Are More Vulnerable to Manipulation
Given that RoboTrump could crank out literally millions to billions of words per day, you can imagine how this technology could be used to manipulate opinion. Bots leveraging this tech could spam blogs, social media posts, etc. The volume of realistically generated text in Trump’s (or anyone else’s) style will enable massive disinformation campaigns of staggering volume and reach.
Digging deeper, we were curious if there were demographic or psychographic differences in the accuracy of the survey respondents we had take our quiz. Scarily, there were.
Trump supporters were also more likely to think that AI-generated text was real, showing less overall skepticism than those unsupportive of Trump.
Education also appeared to play a role in how believable respondents found the AI-generated text. Here, we see somewhat of a bi-modal distribution, with the least educated being the least skeptical (thinking most everything was real). There also seemed to be a slightly lower level of skepticism among the most educated as well (perhaps they overestimated their ability to differentiate).
Similarly, we see that age also has an impact, with younger folks being less skeptical overall (thinking most everything was real). This was a somewhat counter-intuitive result, since you might think younger people would be more likely to know about emerging AI tech. Still, the result stands, showing even tech-savvy younger people were highly susceptible.
A survey and quiz were conducted with 1,000 respondents, where they were tested on their ability to correctly identify AI-generated text (RoboTrump) versus real text (from the real President Trump). Respondents were surveyed on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk Platform. Liberal or Conservative affiliation was based on self report within the categories given as was Trump approval.
The text corpus of real Trump text can be found here. This corpus was used to fine-tune the Salesforce CTRL model, which was then used to generate the fake Trump text.
Quiz respondents were shown each sample of text (both real and fake) in randomized order. They were not shown in a head-to-head fashion.
Bonus*: RoboTrump on Why He Will Win in 2020
I am going to win the 2020 election by a landslide, and we are not even there yet. We have just started. And you know what? We’re doing great. But we’re getting there. You know, they say that if Trump doesn’t run, it’s over. It’s over, folks. If he runs, they’re never gonna beat him. They’re never gonna – he’s got such great support. He’s done an incredible job for us. So we’ll see what happens, but I’m telling you, this is one of those things.
This could be like 1980, where Ronald Reagan won it all. It was so close. He came in second. They said he had no chance. Then they said, “Oh, let’s give him another shot.” That didn’t work out too well. In fact, when I ran against John McCain four years ago, people were saying, “What happened to McCain?” Well, I’ll tell you. When I first started, nobody knew who Donald Trump was. Nobody knew. Now, everybody knows him, right? Everybody knows. That’s pretty good. Pretty good, actually. A lot better than being second place. Right? A lot.
So, that’s why I’ve been saying all along that, yes, I’d love to win. But, boy, do these guys want me to. These guys, they don’t talk about it. They say, “Donald Trump, please, please run.” Because they’ll take away your tax cuts, because they’ll take away your regulation cuts. They’ll take them away. And, frankly, really, really bad things will happen with our country. Our country would go down very quickly. Very quickly, very, very rapidly. The Democrats want to turn back the clock, which is, essentially, what they’ve done. They’ve turned back. We’ve gone much further left than anybody thought possible. And we’ve come way back, actually, since November 8. Remember that? Eight months ago. Remember? How many days ago did that happen? Oh, eight months. Since Election Day, we’ve added nearly half a million manufacturing jobs. Remember, during my campaign, I used to say, “You need steel mills, or you’re not going to make anything,” right? Now I say, “We need plants open up all over the place.” Plants aren’t opening up. Steel isn’t opening. Nucor, General Electric, Whirlpool – companies are moving jobs from other countries. Companies are coming into our country, bringing thousands upon thousands. Chrysler is now building Jeeps again. Big difference. Jeep is making big money. Chrysler’s brand-new plant in Michigan opened two weeks ago. Just opened. Two weeks. Made in America means jobs, jobs, jobs. And remember this: Every single Republican has signed legislation to reduce job-killing regulations, including myself.
Many Republicans have. Many, many. And every Democrat running on their platform wants more regulation, higher taxes, less freedom, and fewer American jobs … More regulation. Higher taxes. Less freedom. What does that mean? Fewer jobs. For years, you’ve heard politicians promise economic growth through massive government spending. You’ve seen how well that worked out. Politicians promised prosperity through massive increases in government. Today, Washington spends almost as much, maybe more, per capita than any place else anywhere on Earth. Think of that. Almost twice as much. Yet Americans get far less. Why? Why should we accept lower standards of living while receiving vastly greater benefits at virtually nothing? As long as we continue down this path, we can expect nothing short of spectacular failure. Nothing short. Not only will America’s economy fail – it’ll fail. It’ll collapse under its own weight.
You’ll lose everything. Your 401(k) plans, your pensions, everything; you’ll have nothing. You’re going to end up losing everything, believe me. No growth. Lower wages. Job loss. Economic stagnation. All gone. There’s nothing left. Nothing. There won’t be. And then there’s always the possibility of war. War brings instability. Chaos follows conflict. Conflict invites violence. Violence begets violence and, ultimately, total destruction. Wars sap resources, drain wealth, and destroy lives. Wars, however, bring opportunity. Opportunity leads to opportunity, and opportunity creates wealth. Opportunities lead to prosperity. Prosperity produces peace. Peace restores freedom and dignity to people. People become proud again, pride comes roaring back, confidence returns, optimism soars, dreams return, hope springs, and families flourish. Optimism springs eternal thanks to the miracle drug known as free trade. Free trade gives us the greatest market economies in history. Greatest in the history of the world. Largest economies. Biggest markets. Most competitive markets anywhere. And yet, despite this, millions still live paycheck to paycheck. Millions struggle day after day, year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation.
Poverty traps entire communities, scars families, cripples individuals, and wastes precious human potential. Yet, poverty also represents progress. Progress toward a brighter tomorrow. Progress, indeed. Progress. One person struggling today may someday help lift up whole communities and nations. One person, today, helps build tomorrow’s economy. One person, right now, makes today’s world richer and stronger. One person, today, strengthens our union and enriches our communities. One person, right here, right now, contributes positively to our society and our culture. One person, right here today, plays a vital role in shaping the course of history, shapes the destiny of nations, and determines whether nations remain free, sovereign, independent, prosperous, safe, secure, united, strong, proud, free. Each of us, each of us, bears responsibility for ensuring that tomorrow becomes today. To achieve prosperity, justice, security, and peace, we must embrace trade, work, safety, family, faith, community, children, friends, neighbors, co-workers, colleagues, and friends.
Together, we share common hopes and aspirations. Together, we stand strong enough to defend ourselves and protect our citizens. Together, we celebrate our heritage together. Together, we care for our neighbors, and together, we honor God. Together, we strive for justice and respect for our fellow citizens and for our laws. Together, we face challenges and triumphs worthy of the best traditions of America. Together, we forge ahead to create a future bright beyond compare. Together, we shape destiny. Together, we choose greatness. Together, we form lasting bonds. Together, we rise above the failures of yesterday. Together, we defy the cynics and doubters and critics and haters and bullies. Together, we prove the pundits wrong. Together, we show the skeptics right. Together, we demonstrate that strength and courage and grit, and we prove again and again that America stands for something. Thank you. God bless you.*Written by RoboTrump, a version of Salesforce’s “CTRL” transformer model, fine-tuned on Trump’s speeches