Image description: A collage of some prominent world leaders in front of various national flags
Image description: A collage of some prominent world leaders in front of various national flags

Illustrated by Izah Sohail

The Year of Elections: A Watershed for the Global Order

More voters than ever in history are heading to the polls this year. The implications of voters’ decisions, made under the shadow of AI-influenced discourse, will reverberate for decades on global conflict, climate and the economy.

Mar 25, 2024

Joe Biden recently robocalled voters telling them not to take part in the New Hampshire Democratic Primary. Former Indonesian president Suharto released a video encouraging citizens to vote in the 2024 election. Moldova’s pro-Western president threw her support behind a pro-Russia political party.
But none of these actions were taken by the real candidates. All three are examples of recent AI deepfakes, where highly convincing digital likenesses of real people are shown. Think twice before you assume that the next political video that you see is real. AI deepfakes are rapidly becoming easier, faster, and cheaper to generate, at a scale that has never been possible. Miles Taylor, a former U.S. Homeland Security official, described it as “jarring” that “a handful of these types of threats” could rapidly sow chaos in a wargame scenario.
Lawmakers in U.S. states have introduced bills to regulate deepfakes in elections. The challenge posed by deepfakes transcends borders; collaboration should be international. This is because the stakes linked to the 2024 elections are not only domestic but extend to the very fabric of the global order. 2024 is the “year of elections” where 49% of the world — including 64 national elections and for representatives in European Union institutions — will go to the polls.
The stakes are high in so many different countries. The U.S. polls could unleash a second term of Donald Trump on the world, with severe geopolitical consequences including the withdrawal of large-scale support for Ukraine. Populist parties also stand to gain ground in the European Parliament elections. In the UK, sluggish economic growth stands to displace the current ruling Conservative party. Taiwan’s presidential election in January was crucially important in shaping international relations over the coming years. And the world’s most populous nation, India, will also soon hold its multiphase general elections stand to cement control of the ruling Hindu nationalist party in a process that takes weeks to complete.
With these stakes, the global democratic process cannot be undermined by misinformation. Voter education and international security measures are more crucial than ever, and governments and private sectors must pioneer a cohesive response to sophisticated misinformation campaigns.
2024 is a test of political will, where it is imperative that voters recognize the weight of their decisions on global governance. The interconnectedness of the world has never been more apparent, as political troubles stand to shape everything from global migration patterns to the speed of the transition away from fossil fuels. The UN Human Rights Office calls this year a test of democracy’s health that threatens the respect for fundamental freedoms and could either continue the backsliding of global democracy or chart a more sustainable path.
As students and “global citizens”, it is our duty to grasp the profound impact of our engagement in the digital age amidst the stakes that we face in an interconnected world. We are never insulated from an event just because it happens somewhere else. Misinformation is not just a distant problem but a rapidly advancing crisis fueled by growing technologies that pose as barriers to access and understanding of truth. It is a year where we should learn and understand, but also commit to a properly informed, engaged, and critical valuation of truth.
Ethan Fulton is Editor-in-Chief. Email him at
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