Artificial Intelligence and the Rise of Deepfakes: A Concern with Growing Technology
Artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionized various fields, providing exceptional resources. However, like any other technology, AI also comes with its drawbacks. One such concern is the emergence of “deepfakes,” which are manipulated images or videos that appear incredibly realistic but contain false information. With the help of AI, deepfakes have gained traction on the internet, raising questions about their creation, dissemination, and credibility.
Deepfake content can be used to present misinformation as facts across different sectors such as politics, celebrities’ lives, athletes’ achievements, and even targeting ordinary individuals. Dr. Thiago Serra from Bucknell University explains that AI can generate compellingly realistic content using minimal data about a person.
“Because of the amount of data we have today, we can create generative models,” says Dr. Serra. “It doesn’t take much to create an image of yourself doing things you’ve never done.”
The application of machine learning techniques enables the generation of new content based on existing material. This capability proves beneficial for entertainment and film production where users can seamlessly integrate parts of videos into others without any issues.
However, when it comes to deepfakes specifically, this accessible technology becomes problematic. “Digital video technology has gotten to the point where it’s easy for a person with limited technological knowledge to do it,” warns Dr. Shomir Wilson from Penn State University.
The concerning aspect is that deepfakes are likely to become more convincing over time through advancements in practice and AI-generated speech synthesis. The potential consequences were exemplified by fabricated images depicting former President Donald Trump’s arrest earlier this year—a situation that never occurred but flooded social media platforms.
Deepfakes are most commonly used to manipulate political narratives and agendas. Wilson explains that individuals create situations involving politicians that never happened or alter videos to make it seem like they are acting differently.
How to Identify Deepfakes
The prevalence of deepfakes portraying politicians, celebrities, and average citizens raises a crucial question for social media users: How can we identify them?
Dr. Serra acknowledges that identifying deepfakes is challenging and may become increasingly difficult as the technology progresses. “It will be difficult to move forward,” she says, “They are becoming more and more credible.”
Wilson emphasizes the importance of implementing good information hygiene habits among social media users. This includes considering both the source of the content and how it is framed.
“Is it coming from a trusted news source or maybe a source I’ve never heard of before?” Wilson asks. “How does it present itself? Is the framing designed to inform us or provoke us?”
In today’s polarized political landscape, adopting these habits becomes even more vital. It is essential to remember that personal biases should not determine the trustworthiness of an image or video.
To protect their own data and content from alteration and misrepresentation, individuals can take certain measures. Dr. Serra recommends adding watermarks or small marks to images before posting them on social media platforms. These marks would help in easily detecting any alterations made by others.
“When you share a photo, add something very small to it so that if someone uses it, those marks appear too,” suggests Dr. Serra. “This will tell you that it comes from a different image in the past.”
While the future of artificial intelligence remains uncertain, Dr. Serra believes we are entering an unprecedented era where technology offers endless possibilities. On the other hand, Wilson anticipates that AI’s applications will improve with time, emphasizing the need to distinguish between its positive and negative impacts.
The zenith, as AI continues to advance, deepfakes pose a significant concern. It is crucial for individuals to be vigilant in identifying deepfakes by considering the source and framing of content. Additionally, protecting personal data through watermarking can help prevent misrepresentation. The potential benefits and harms of AI must be carefully navigated in this evolving technological landscape.
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