AITech Interview with Colin Levy, Director of Legal at Malbek

Colin, could you elaborate on the concerns you’ve raised regarding AI’s impact on elections?

Answer: When it comes to AI and its impact/role in elections, the challenge is misinformation, generated by deep fakes (e.g. someone’s image and voice being used to propagate false opinions and incorrect information), bot accounts on social media propagating incorrect and/or misleading information and people’s susceptibility these types of behaviors. In practical terms this means that we all need to be more skeptical of what we see, read, and encounter online and be able to verify what we see and hear online.

How does AI contribute to the dissemination of misinformation and disinformation during electoral processes, in your view?

Answer: AI contributes to the dissemination of misinformation and disinformation by enabling the creation and spread of convincing fake content, such as deepfakes, and by personalizing and optimizing the delivery of content on social media platforms. These capabilities can be exploited to create false narratives, impersonate public figures, and undermine trust in the electoral process.

Can you provide examples of how AI technologies, such as deepfakes and social media manipulation, undermine the integrity of elections?

Deepfakes: AI-generated videos or audio recordings that convincingly depict real people saying or doing things they never did, which can be used to create false impressions of candidates or mislead about their positions.

Social Media Manipulation: The use of bots and algorithms to amplify divisive content, spread falsehoods, and manipulate trending topics to influence political discourse.

Personalized ads:The creation and use of political ads designed to mislead, convince others of false information, and/or get them to take actions that may be against their best interests and benefit someone else unbeknownst to the viewer of the ad.

What specific measures do you recommend to combat the threat of AI interference in elections?

Answer: I do not pretend or purport to have all the answers or even any answers, per se. What I can suggest is that measures including developing and enforcing strict regulations on political advertising and the use of personal data for political purposes, implementing robust and verifiable fact-checking and content verification mechanisms to identify and label or remove false information, and encouraging the development of AI systems that prioritize transparency, accountability, and the detection of manipulative content may be useful.

In your opinion, how can transparency and accountability in AI algorithms help prevent their misuse in the electoral context?

Answer: Enhancing transparency involves making the workings of AI algorithms more understandable and accessible to regulators and the public, including disclosing when and how AI is used in content curation and distribution. Accountability measures include holding platforms and creators legally and ethically responsible for the content disseminated by their AI systems so as to ensure that there are mechanisms to challenge and rectify misleading or harmful outputs.

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Navigating the Mirage: Deepfakes and the Quest for Authenticity in a Digital World

The potential for deepfakes to sway public opinion and influence the outcome of India’s Lok Sabha is raising red flags throughout the cyber community. While Indians are deciding on which candidate best represents their views, deepfakes, and generative technologies make it easy for manipulators to create and spread realistic videos of a candidate saying or doing something that never actually occurred.

The Deepfake threat in politics

The use of deepfakes in politics is particularly alarming. Imagine a scenario where a political candidate appears to be giving a speech or making statements that have no basis in reality. These AI-generated impersonations, based on a person’s prior videos or audio bites, can create a fabricated reality that could easily sway public opinion. In an environment already riddled with misinformation, the addition of deepfakes takes the challenge to a whole new level.

For instance, the infamous case where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared to concede defeat to Russia is a stark reminder of the power of deepfakes in influencing public sentiment. Though the deception was identified due to imperfect rendering, there is no way of knowing who believes it to be true even after being disproved, showcasing the potential for significant political disruption.

Deepfakes as a danger in the digital workplace

Employees, often the weakest link in security, are especially vulnerable to deepfake attacks. Employees can easily be tricked into divulging sensitive information by a convincing deepfake of a trusted colleague or superior. The implications for organisational security are profound, highlighting the need for advanced, AI-driven security measures that can detect anomalies in user behaviour and access patterns.

The double-edged sword of AI in cybersecurity

However, it’s important to recognize that AI, the very technology behind deepfakes, also holds immense capabilities to help hackers discover cybersecurity loopholes and breach business networks. While AI may help discover new vulnerabilities for threat actors, it also can be used to discover counter-measures, such as identifying patterns in data that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

A system can then flag the potential Deepfake content and remove it before it achieves its goal. This can help bridge the global skills gap in cybersecurity, enabling analysts to focus on strategic decision-making rather than sifting through endless data.

Companies must prioritise AI-driven cybersecurity solutions as part of a broader, company-wide approach that intertwines safety with quality across all aspects of their operations. From online behaviour to development processes, a centralised AI- ingested understanding of an organisation’s baseline is crucial. Such technologies can identify breaches in real time, whether perpetrated by external threat actors or employees misled by deepfakes. This proactive stance is essential for maintaining integrity and security in a digital landscape increasingly complicated by AI technologies.

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