Countering deepfakes, AI threat

GS 3 Science and Technology Developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Introduction

Disinformation and hoaxes have evolved from mere annoyance to high stake warfare for creating social discord, increasing polarization, and in some cases, influencing an election outcome.

Contemporary Issue:

  • Cybercrime officials in India have been tracking certain apps and websites that produce nude photographs of innocent people using Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms.
  • 84% increase in number of deepfakes.
  • 14678 Deepfakes on the internet.
  • 47% people admit that they could be a victim of deepfakes.

DEEP FAKES:

  • Deepfakes are a new tool to spread computational propaganda and disinformation at scale and with speed.
  • Deepfakes are the digital media manipulated using Artificial Intelligence. 
  • Access to commodity cloud computing, algorithms and abundant data has created a perfect storm to democratise media creation and manipulation.
  • use AI softwares to superimpose a digital composite to an existing video, photo or audio.
  • Using AI algorithms a person’s words, head movements and expressions are transferred onto another person.
    • in such a seamless way that it becomes difficult to tell that it is a deep fake, unless one closely observes the media file.
  • An individual with advanced knowledge of machine learning and access to the victim’s publicly-available social media profile could only make deep fakes.
  • Deep fakes first came into notice in 2017 when a Reddit user posted explicit videos of celebrities. 

Undermining democracy:

  • A deep fake can also aid in altering the democratic discourse.
  • Undermine trust in institutions and impair diplomacy.
    • False information about institutions, public policy, and politicians powered by a deepfake can be exploited to spin the story and manipulate belief.
  • A deep fake of a political candidate can sabotage their image and reputation.
    • Leaders can also use them to: 
      • increase populism
      • consolidate power. 
      • to sow the seeds of polarisation
      • amplifying division in society
      • suppressing dissent.

Damage to Personal Reputation:

  • Deepfake can depict a person indulging in antisocial behaviours and saying vile things.
    • severe implications on their reputation, sabotaging their professional and personal life.
    • Even if the victim could debunk the deep fake, it may come too late to remedy the initial harm.
  • Can be deployed to extract money, confidential information or exact favours from individuals.
  • Powerful tool by a nation-state to undermine public safety and create uncertainty and chaos in the target country.
    • with geopolitical aspirations
    • ideological believers
    • violent extremists
    • economically motivated enterprises
    • can manipulate media narratives.
  • Can be used by insurgent groups and terrorist organisations
    • to represent their adversaries as making inflammatory speeches
    • engaging in provocative actions 
    • to stir up anti-state sentiments among people.

Concerns:

  • The technology becomes vulnerable because deep fake are very realistic and can be used by cybercriminals
    • to spread misinformation 
    • to intimidate
    • blackmail people
    • seek revenge
    • commit fraud on social networking and dating sites.
  • It has become one of the 
    • modern frauds of cyberspace
    • along with fake news
    • spam/phishing attacks
    • social engineering fraud
    • catfishing
    • academic fraud.
  • Development of apps and websites capable of such editing became more frequent and easily accessible to an average user.

Way Forward 

  • To defend the truth and secure freedom of expression, we need a multi stakeholder and multimodal approach.
  • Media literacy for consumers and journalists is the most effective tool to combat disinformation and deepfakes.
    • Media literacy efforts must be enhanced to cultivate a discerning public.
    • As consumers of media, must have the ability to decipher, understand, translate, and use the information we encounter.
  • Even a short intervention with media understanding, learning the motivations and context, can lessen the damage.
  • Meaningful regulations with a collaborative discussion with the technology industry, civil society, and policymakers 
    • can facilitate disincentivising the creation and distribution of malicious deepfakes.
    • Also need easy-to-use and accessible technology solutions 
      • to detect deepfakes, authenticate media, and amplify authoritative sources.
  • All must take the responsibility 
    • to be a critical consumer of media on the Internet
    • think and pause before we share on social media
    • be part of the solution to this infodemic.

Conclusion 

Collaborative actions and collective techniques across legislative regulations, platform policies, technology intervention and media literacy can provide effective and ethical countermeasures to mitigate the threat of malicious deep fakes.

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