Toronto, Ontario (CTV Network) – A UN consultant says the world needs to be “vigilant” as AI technology improves, allowing for more realistic deepfakes.
Deepfake refers to media, typically video or audio, that has been manipulated using artificial intelligence to depict a person saying or doing something that never happened in real life.
“Digital twins are basically an exact copy of something from the real world… Deepfakes are a mirror image of a digital twin, which means someone has created a digital replica without that person’s permission, usually for malicious purposes, usually to trick someone, said Neil Sahota, a California-based AI expert who has served as an advisor to Amnesty International to the United Nations CTVNews.ca by phone on Friday.
Deepfakes have been used to produce a variety of fake news content, such as content that supposedly shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asking his country to surrender to Russia. Scammers have also used deepfakes to produce false endorsements from celebrities. In one case, an Ontario woman lost $750,000 after watching a deepfake video of Elon Musk appearing to promote an investment scam.
On top of scams and fake news, Sahota notes, deepfakes have also been widely used to create pornography without consent. Last month in Quebec, a man was jailed for creating child sexual abuse images using social media images of real children.
“We hear stories about celebrities, it could really be done to anyone. And in fact the deepfakes started in revenge porn,” he said. “You really have to be on your guard.”
Sahota says people need to pay close attention to video and audio clips that appear, as they can be a sign of media manipulation.
“You have to have a watchful eye. If it’s a video, you have to look for weird things, like body language, weird shading, that kind of thing. For the audio, you have to ask…” Are they saying things they’d normally say? Do they look out of character? Is something damaged? “
At the same time, Sahota says policymakers need to do more when it comes to educating the public about the dangers of deepfakes and how to spot them. It also suggests that there should be a content verification system using digital tokens to authenticate media and remove deepfakes.
“Even celebrities are trying to figure out a way to create a trusted stamp, some kind of token or authentication system, so that if you have any kind of impersonal interaction, you have a way to verify,” he said. That’s kind of what’s starting to happen at the UN level. Like, how can we authenticate conversations and authenticate video? “
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