Law, public policy, and tech-industry leaders join forces ahead of a major election year
CALIFORNIA – Today, California Common Cause launched a trailblazing new entity – the California Institute for Technology and Democracy (“CITED”) – to fight back against the threats that artificial intelligence, disinformation, deepfakes, and other emerging technologies pose to our elections. The launch comes on Election Day 2023, one year ahead of the monumental 2024 Presidential Election.
The first-of-its-kind entity in California, or in any state, CITED brings together thought leaders in tech, law, public policy, civil rights, civic engagement, and academia to pioneer pragmatic, high-impact, state-level solutions to fight new digital threats to our elections and democracy. Independent of industry and with bipartisan leadership, CITED will provide analysis and guidance divorced from private agendas and partisanship.
The 2024 election is the nation’s first full-fledged AI election, and AI-generated deepfakes will become a routine part of our information ecosystems, where voters will not know what images, audio, and video they can trust. Some such threats are already emerging. With our federal government not positioned to take the urgent action necessary, and with Sacramento missing an unbiased, nonpartisan authority to lead efforts against such threats, CITED seeks to help California fill that leadership gap.
- Make legislative recommendations and develop new state-level policy proposals;
- Provide analysis of policy proposals from California, Washington DC, and international actors;
- Supply California policymakers, press, and public at large with the impartial expertise necessary to meet this critical moment; and
- Conduct mass voter education and offer public leadership at the intersection of democracy and technology.
Select quotes from the briefing, in order of speakers, are below:
“AI and disinformation are an existential threat to our democracy and elections. As we all painfully know, Congress has not shown itself capable of advancing meaningful reforms to meet the challenges our democracy now faces. It falls to states like California to fill this dangerous leadership void. Fortunately, we are uniquely positioned to meet this moment… CITED is the first entity of its kind, intentionally designed to protect our democracy in the modern age.”
– Jonathan Mehta Stein, executive director of California Common Cause
“Disinformation narratives aren’t just undermining voters’ faith in our election system, they are making lives more dangerous for elections officials… The legislature is hungry for thoughtful solutions. I am excited about the approach CITED is taking to bring together a diverse group of technology, policy, civic engagement, and academic experts to provide policymakers like me with unbiased information to help us address these enormous threats.”
– Assemblymember Gail Pellerin, Chair of the Assembly Elections Committee; Former Registrar of Voters, Santa Cruz County
“I am a Republican who is proud to serve on CITED’s board. Having served in the Legislature and having founded an institute at the intersections of technology and public policy, I know that Sacramento does not have a source of expertise that is unbiased and independent of industry on the question of tech regulation. CITED is sorely needed.”
– Minority Leader Emeritus Sam Blakeslee, former State Assemblymember and State Senator; founding director of the Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
“CITED will fill a critical gap in Washington, providing Congress with a wealth of on-the-ground knowledge and expertise on how we can protect our elections and empower the American people in the age of rapid disinformation. This comprehensive approach brings together stakeholders from a broad list of sectors to ensure we are meeting the information needs of every single voter in every corner of the country—starting in America’s technology capital: California.”
– Ishan Mehta, national media & democracy program director of Common Cause