Markovich: What would ‘the most trusted man in America’ think of AI, ‘news’ now?

May 22, 2024, 3:32 AM

Image: Walter Cronkite attends the International Radio And Television Society Foundation's 2004 Gol...

Walter Cronkite attends the International Radio And Television Society Foundation's 2004 Gold Medal Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City on March 16, 2004. (Photo: Evan Agostini, Getty Images)

(Photo: Evan Agostini, Getty Images)

In a new survey done by Elon University, that’s a North Carolina school that has nothing to do the guy Tesla, Space X or Twitter, 78% polled believed the outcome of the presidential election will be affected by an abuse of artificial intelligence (AI), either by manipulating social media with fake accounts or bots or by creating fake audio and video news reports that distort the impression of a campaign.

That’s three out of four people surveyed.  That’s a lot.

And 7 out of 10 people were not confident in their own abilities to detect a fake picture, video or audio.

So, who should we trust going forward?

In the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, Walter Cronkite was called the most trusted man in America. (And yes, I’m dating myself when I say I grew up watching him as a kid.)  He was an inspiration of why I got into news.

He died 15 years ago: 92 years old.

What would he think of artificial intelligence (AI) in our world of opinionated “news” outlets (and that’s news in quotes)?

How people put trust into cheating sports starts, politicians who lie blatantly without hesitation and leaders of industry who do the same? (And they’re all not fake, they are real people.)

Who would Cronkite – the most trusted man in America – who would he trust?

The answer may be in an old Ronald Reagan Cold War phrase we should keep in mind: Trust, but verify. It’s a phrase that’s neither Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative,  but just common sense.

It’s now incumbent on for all of us to do just that. Don’t believe everything you see and hear right away. I think that’s what the poll is telling us.

Unfortunately, “That’s the way it is, Friday March 6th, 1981. … Good night.”

I could not have ended this commentary any other way.

Matt Markovich often covers the state legislature and public policy for KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of Matt’s stories here. Follow him on X, or email him here.

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Markovich: What would ‘the most trusted man in America’ think of AI, ‘news’ now?