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- Original Article: An online propaganda campaign used AI-generated headshots to create fake journalists
- Source: The Verge
- Authored By: James Vincent
Thanks to the evolution and accessibility of artificial intelligence tools, it appears that propaganda machines are getting smarter. I cannot remember who said this quote (I think it may have been a historian or medical journalist in a CRISPR documentary), but the idea that “humans are brilliant at inventing things, but not so brilliant at predicting how these things will evolve to be used in the future”, is a theory that we see repeating constantly in the modern age. I think it is especially true when combined with the power-potential of artificial intelligence–which is still in its infancy by all accounts.
I remember reading about and even playing around with ThisPesonDoesNotExist.com (a website dedicated to showing the user on-demand A.I. generated headshots) and thinking it was a fascinating and impressive tool, but I did not give much thought into the role this tool might play in the conduction of harmful journalism practices in the future. The article I sourced above is reporting on how untraceable headshots from ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com are being used as headshots for the social media accounts of seemingly-reputable journalists, who, upon deeper investigation, are proven to be entirely fake.
This network of fictional journalists are (unsurprisingly) playing a role in the development of op-ed political pieces and supporting certain right-wing ideologies. We don’t know who the person(s) behind these fake accounts are, but their hard work is seemingly paying off as we’ve seen these opinion pieces appear in the Washington Examiner, American Thinker, and even a few middle eastern papers. Thankfully people are catching onto the ruse, and Twitter has suspended 15 fake accounts so far.
This story is a very light example of how artificial intelligence can have real-world consequences, however unintended they might be. I think I have to side with billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk (who has a reportedly complex relationship with the A.I. community), when he says “A.I will be the best or worst thing ever for humanity”. Now, that quote is kind of a stretch given this particular example, but as I said–this is a very light example of humans playing with AI tools to push an agenda. I still do fear to see how certain people will game A.I. tools (originally intended for good), in order to damage the public in the future.
An array of AI-generated faces from ThisPesonDoesNotExist.com