When researchers evaluate influence operations, they consider the actors, behaviors, and content. The widespread availability of technology powered by language models has the potential to impact all three facets:
Actors: Language models could drive down the cost of running influence operations, placing them within reach of new actors and actor types. Likewise, propagandists-for-hire that automate production of text may gain new competitive advantages.
Behavior: Influence operations with language models will become easier to scale, and tactics that are currently expensive (e.g., generating personalized content) may become cheaper. Language models may also enable new tactics to emerge—like real-time content generation in chatbots.
Content: Text creation tools powered by language models may generate more impactful or persuasive messaging compared to propagandists, especially those who lack requisite linguistic or cultural knowledge of their target. They may also make influence operations less discoverable, since they repeatedly create new content without needing to resort to copy-pasting and other noticeable time-saving behaviors.
Our bottom-line judgment is that language models will be useful for propagandists and will likely transform online influence operations. Even if the most advanced models are kept private or controlled through application programming interface (API) access, propagandists will likely gravitate towards open-source alternatives and nation states may invest in the technology themselves.