All The Ways AI Could Impact the Next US Presidential Election

Lon Harris
Lon Harris is a contributor to dot.LA. His work has also appeared on ScreenJunkies, RottenTomatoes and Inside Streaming.
All The Ways AI Could Impact the Next US Presidential Election
Evan Xie

Earlier this week, President Joe Biden announced his intention to run for re-election in 2024, and the Republican National Committee (RNC) has responded with a negative ad, imagining the dystopian future awaiting us should he secure a second term. The video is made up entirely of images created by generative AI software, appearing to show President Biden and VP Harris’ victory celebration, followed by nightmarish images of the immediate consequences for Americans. (These include a flood of new immigrants arriving at the southern border, various international conflicts, and a new financial crisis.) It’s the RNC’s first entirely AI-generated ad in history, and one of the first major political ads created by a generative AI app in U.S. history.


While some of the ad’s images look fairly lifelike, there remains an uncanny surreality to many shots. The creators of the ad have employed this purposefully, suggesting not verifiable reality but an imagined, “dark” future if the Republican candidate utlimately loses the election. The current state of generative AI is rather ideal for designing a dystopian near-future, rather than an entirely credible and compelling vision of our own world.

Still, the existence of an AI-generated political ad – a year and a half before Americans actually go to the polls – serves as something of a canary in the coal mine moment. Whether or not AI apps will impact politics is no longer a purely theoretical question: the technology is here right now, and it’s already making a difference.

The Growing Concerns of AI-Created Misinformation in Elections

Not surprisingly, the ability of generative AI apps to create credible fake images, audio clips, or even videos has received most of the attention. Putting words in a candidate’s mouth or depict them in a compromising scenario obviously has a lot of psychic power. If AI fakes were believable enough, and spread far enough before being discredited, they could theoretically sway an election entirely on their own.

Many of these concerns pre-date the 2023 explosion of interest in AI apps. In 2020, and even as far back as 2016, voters were warned about the potential of social media platforms and “deepfakes” to spread misinformation about candidates and their positions on the issues. The technology has only become more sophisticated over time; nothing like the new RNC ad was remotely possible when the first warnings about deepfakes appeared in the press.

Even more regrettably, it’s becoming increasingly clear that cutting-edge, extremely polished AI apps probably aren’t even going to be necessary to fool a lot of voters. Over the last few election cycles, communication experts have found that you can trick a lot of people with so-called “cheapfakes,” which rely on basic editing techniques rather than high-tech solutions like generative AI. One viral video from the 2020 election claimed to locate a hidden wire on Joe Biden, used to feed him information during a debate. Even though the line was just an undoctored crease in Biden’s shirt, the fake video was shared thousands of times.

The Washington Post reports that political campaigns have started reaching out to social media platforms – including Facebook owners Meta – about how they plan to combat the spread of AI-created misinformation. According to the article, Meta responded that it will employ “independent fact-checkers” to examine media and apply warning labels to “dubious content.” This apparently raised concerns among the campaigns, as human fact-checkers can sometimes be slow to react to fast-spreading viral falsehoods, and can’t really deal with content that’s being rapidly shared and duplicated by users.

For their part, the Post has a three-part strategy for members of the public attempting to identify deepfakes: check out the hands, look for gibberish or garbled text, and scan the background for blurry or distorted details. These are of course the well-known glitches and sticking points for generative AI apps; concerningly, we’re seeing constant improvement on these fronts. Midjourney is already capable of producing lifelike hands.

It’s important to note, as well, that the existence of credible “deepfakes” and AI-generated videos also gives politicians a potential out, even when confronted with real evidence of divisive statements or outright wrongdoing. If the infamous behind-the-scenes “Access Hollywood” recording to Donald Trump were released today, for example, rather than in 2016, the former president could simply deny that was his actual voice, opening room for doubt among supporters.

Opportunities for AI in Copywriting, Micro-Targeting, and Polling

Concerns about manipulated audio, images and videos have sucked up most of the oxygen around the political impact of AI, but they’re just one of many ways that the technology will likely play a role in the 2024 presidential race, along with all future US elections. According to a recent piece from Politico, campaigns are very aware of the potential impact of AI technology, but remain in the brainstorming phase about how to employ it for their personal benefit.

Many of the ideas about how to use AI center around copywriting. ChatGPT and similar products may sometimes decline to address specific political issues, due to guardrails installed by the creators to avoid potentially controversial or even upsetting responses. But they can still be used to outline and workshop campaign emails to get a sense for how various approaches and phrases could play for an audience. According to The New York Times, the Democratic Party has already started testing out the use of AI apps in composing fundraising emails, and has apparently found that – on occasion – the apps come up with pitches that worked more effectively than their human-composed counterparts.

The same kinds of Large Language Models (LLMs) that power apps like ChatGPT could be used for what’s known in the political world as “micro-targeting.” In general, this just refers to creating political ads and messaging that’s likely to have a lot of appeal and impact for a narrow, niche audience. With AI apps’ ability to scan and process so much data so quickly, theoretically, it’s possible they could micro-target political advertising on an incredibly narrow scale, potentially even customizing ads in some small ways for each individual viewer based on their pre-existing biases and preferences.

Similarly, heavily customizable and granular political polling presents another oppotunity for AI to make its presence known. Earlier this month, a team composed of both political and computer scientists from Brigham Young University used ChatGPT-3 to mimic a political survey, tweaking responses based on demographics like race, age, ideology, and religion. When comparing their results to actual poll results from the 2012, 2016, and 2020 US presidential campaigns, they found a high correspondence between the AI responses and real voters. AI “focus groups” could thus become a way to test out all kinds of potential strategies, slogans, speeches, and approaches, allowing campaigns to tweak and fine-tune their messaging before it’s ever even presented to an actual human audience.

So is AI a Real Threat to the 2024 Election?

Not everyone is convinced that the end is nigh and these potential AI threats are real and bonafide concerns. This week, British journalist Gavin Haynes argued that journalists – not AI apps – present the gravest challenge to a free and fair 2024 presidential race. Haynes notes that ideas like “AI focus groups,” while they might have some utility, are necessarily tied to the past. The application itself was trained on what people previously said about their political opinions and ideas, not how they feel today, or how they will feel next week, presenting a natural barrier to their utility in fast-moving political campaigns. He also points out that, so far, conventional reporting has been pretty good at pushing back against fraudulent deepfakes. Even that relatively believable image of the Pope in a puffer jacket was debunked almost immediately, and it wasn’t particularly shocking.

As we’ve seen in the last several election cycles, misinformation doesn’t require artificial intelligence to help it spread. Still, Haynes’ certainty that responsible journalism can adequately push back against whatever AI apps can throw at your feed feels a bit premature. We’ve yet to see what tactics the candidates’ campaigns are going to come up with for these tools, let alone what lone wolf bad actors around the web are going to do independently once the election really starts to heat up.

🏰 Disney's Epic Investment Stands Out Amidst Gaming Industry Layoffs

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

🔦 Spotlight

In the midst of widespread gaming industry layoffs, a glimmer of positive news emerges as Disney announces a significant move: a $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games. 🏰💰🐭

Image Source: Disney

Disney's $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, disclosed late Wednesday, signals a strategic alignment aimed at expanding the success of "Fortnite." The deal enhances Epic's growth prospects after financial setbacks, including layoffs, and strengthens the partnership between the two companies. With Disney gaining a larger equity stake in Epic, the collaboration will broaden the integration of beloved Disney franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Avatar into the game, potentially boosting its appeal and longevity. This significant investment underscores Disney's commitment to interactive entertainment and signifies a shift towards games as a primary revenue stream, aligning with the growing trend of digital engagement among younger demographics. Moreover, the potential for crossover sales of physical Disney products within "Fortnite" and the exploration of new content distribution channels are just some of the opportunities arising from this partnership.

For LA tech, the Disney-Epic Games partnership represents a validation of the region's burgeoning tech and gaming ecosystem. The substantial investment in Epic, who maintains a large Los Angeles office with 1,000+ employees (according to LinkedIn), reflects confidence in the LA’s talent pool and innovation potential. Additionally, this partnership between two industry giants fosters an environment for further collaboration, investment, and growth within LA's tech sector. As Disney and Epic Games deepen their ties and explore new avenues for content integration and distribution, it not only elevates the prominence of LA as a tech hub but also stimulates economic growth and job creation in the region. This partnership highlights LA's unique position as a hub where technology and entertainment converge. With its ability to integrate diverse industries, LA is driving innovation and expansion in digital entertainment. 🚀💸🎮

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • ProducePay, a financing and marketplace platform for the fresh produce market, raised a $38M Series D led by Syngenta Group Ventures joined by Commonfund, Highgate Private Equity, G2 Venture Partners, Anterra Capital, Astanor Ventures, Endeavor8, Avenue Venture Opportunities, Avenue Sustainable Solutions, and Red Bear Angels. - learn more
  • Blush, an invite-only dating app that drives users to local businesses on dates, raised a $7M Seed Round from individuals like Naval Ravikant. - learn more
  • Mogul, a startup founded last year that provides an overview of an artist's royalty earnings and identifies areas where money is owed but has not yet been collected, raised a $1.9 million seed round from Wonder Ventures, United Talent Agency, AmplifyLA, and Creator Partners. - learn more
  • Avnos, a hybrid direct air capture startup, raised a $36M Series A led by NextEra Energy and joined by Safran Corporate Ventures, Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners, and Rusheen Capital Management. - learn more
  • AI.fashion, startup whose mission is to help retailers enhance the online shopping experience by providing consumers with virtual try-ons and personalized fashion recommendations, raised a $3.6M Seed Round led by Neo. - learn more
  • Suma Wealth, startup that aims to demystify financial topics and provide culturally relevant content, virtual experiences, and resources to help Latino users navigate financial challenges and opportunities, raised a $2.2M Seed Round . Radicle Impact led, and was joined by Vamos Ventures, OVO fund and the American Heart Association Impact Fund. - learn more
  • 222, a startup that helps users discover their city and meet new people through unique social experiences, raised a $2.5M Seed Round. Investors included 1517 Fund, General Catalyst, Best Nights VC, Scrum Ventures, and Upfront Ventures. - learn more
  • LimaCharlie, a security operations cloud platform, raised a $10.2M Series A led by Sands Capital. - learn more
  • Polycam, an app that uses a smartphone’s sensors to capture 3D scans of objects, raised an $18M Series A co-led by Left Lane Capital and Adjacent, and joined by Adobe Ventures and individuals like Chad Hurley and Shaun Maguire. -learn more.

LA Venture Funds

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a startup building software to decarbonize logistics for logistics businesses and goods business through a vetted marketplace and optimization software. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $1.5M Pre Seed Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

Venture Waves, Climate Tech Wins, and Silicon Beach's Ongoing Evolution

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Anduril Seeks $1.5B in VC Funds

Defense company Anduril Industries Inc., based in Costa Mesa and founded by Palmer Luckey, is seeking to raise $1.5 billion in fresh funds to boost its valuation to $12.5 billion or more, according to sources quoted by The Information. This fundraising effort, if successful, would mark one of the largest venture capital rounds of the year.

Image Source: Anduril

Anduril recently secured a contract to develop and test small unmanned fighter jet prototypes under the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program, beating out major defense companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Alongside General Atomics, Anduril will design, manufacture, and test these aircraft, with a final multibillion-dollar production decision expected in fiscal year 2026. This program aims to deliver at least 1,000 combat aircraft to fly in concert with manned platforms and is part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance initiative. Central to Anduril’s success in this contract is the Fury autonomous air vehicle, acquired through the purchase of Blue Force Technologies. This victory underscores Anduril's rapid advancement in the defense sector, aligning with Luckey's vision of building faster and more cost-effective defense assets. - learn more

Los Angeles Ranks Number 1 in Emerging Climate Tech Hub

The 2024 Emerging Climate Tech Hubs Report by Revolution highlights Los Angeles as a burgeoning center for climate tech innovation. LA's growth in this sector is driven by its diverse talent pool, strong research institutions, and a culture of environmental consciousness. The city's unique mix of legacy industries, such as entertainment and aerospace, alongside emerging tech companies, positions it as a pivotal player in the climate tech landscape. This shift reflects a broader trend of decentralized climate tech funding across the U.S., reducing the historical dominance of California's traditional hubs. - learn more

Silicon Beach: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Assessing the overall health of the startup market is challenging, especially as venture capital funding has decreased by an average of 61% from 2021 to 2023 across the top VC markets in the US. Markets with robust ecosystems in AI, SaaS, Biotech, Healthtech, and Fintech appear to be weathering the downturn better than those focused on Consumer and Gaming industries, areas where Los Angeles traditionally excels.

Percent Change In VC Funding By Region

CB Insights

LA Times paints a rather bleak outlook on the Los Angeles tech scene noting venture capital funding in Greater Los Angeles plummeted 73% from 2021 to 2022. Silicon Beach, once a vibrant tech corridor, currently faces high vacancy rates and lacks late-stage financiers, especially in the AI sector. However, there are positive signs, including growth in aerospace startups and increased venture capital investment in early 2024, suggesting a potential rebound for LA's tech ecosystem.

While LA may not be exceeding expectations during this period, its tech ecosystem warrants a nuanced evaluation, given the broader market dynamics and its strong performance in specific sectors. Reach out to us with your thoughts.

🚀 SpaceX gears up for another stellar year, active raises, and more

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Happy Friday Los Angeles! You made it through the first week of 2024!

🔦 Spotlight

Elon Musk may be a divisive (albeit entertaining) figure, but the continued success of SpaceX is pivotal for the aerospace industry in Los Angeles and more broadly around the world.

Image Source: SpaceX webcast

What happened with SpaceX in 2023?

  • Elon Musk challenged Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight.
  • SpaceX launched 96 successful missions with its Falcon series of rockets, a 57% increase over its previous annual record.
  • SpaceX conducted two test flights of the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, Starship.
  • Roughly two-thirds of SpaceX's launches in 2023 were devoted to building out Starlink, the company's satellite-internet megaconstellation.
  • Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography was published in September including everything from Musk’s tumultuous relationship with his father to his work ethic and “demon mode”.

Moving forward what can we expect from SpaceX and its controversial founder? Continued innovation pushing the aerospace industry to new limits? Yes. More drama? Without a doubt.

Here is some of what is to come in 2024:

🤝 Venture Deals

Just Announced

Check back next week!

LA Exits

  • CG Oncology, an Irvine, CA-based developer of immunotherapies for bladder cancer, filed for a $100M IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (CGON) with Morgan Stanley as left lead underwriter, and has raised around $317m in VC funding. - learn more
  • McNally Capital agreed to sell Advanced Micro Instruments, a Costa Mesa, CA-based maker of gas analyzers and sensing technologies, to Enpro (NYSE: NPO). - learn more

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a hard-tech startup that is developing a technology for decarbonizing natural gas, is raising a $1.5M Seed Round. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $250K Angel Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

📅 LA Tech Calendar

Sunday, January 7th

Wednesday, January 10th

  • Startup Cafe: Networking with a Kick - Entrepreneurs, Startups, and Tech Enthusiasts join together to meet and connect with like-minded people, industry professionals and investors, while enjoying a nice cup of coffee in Venice at The KINN. This week’s interactive discussion about AI’s evolution in entertainment will feature Dr. Sam Khoze and Rachel Joy Victor.
  • Venice Tech Happy Hour- Join Startup Coil and FoundrHaus Wednesday evening and enjoy the sunset from the rooftop, grab a bite overlooking Abbot Kinney, and mingle with other tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs by the bar on the patio.

Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!

📙 What We’re Reading

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