Artificial Intelligence

Fake people, real threat: How AI is being used to spread propaganda

A new report highlights how life-like, AI-generated influencers are being used to promote Chinese propaganda and discredit American ideals online.

Fake people, real threat: How AI is being used to spread propaganda
Synthesia / The New York Times
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While artificial intelligence has broad applications across many different fields, experts are now worried about it being used to spread disinformation.

report from the research firm Graphika highlights a new Chinese propaganda campaign called "Spam-o-flouge."

It's using life-like AI figures to promote the interests of the Chinese Communist Party and discrediting American ideals.

The software was created by the artificial intelligence firm Synthesia and allows you to generate videos from plain text in minutes. It's been used by more than 40,000 companies worldwide for things like consulting, video blogs and advertising, according to the company's website.

But now it's raising concerns that AI like Synthesia's is being used as a tool to spread disinformation.

The technology is so sophisticated, that the AI-generated avatars can even have debates amongst themselves. 

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Siwei Lyu is a computer science and engineering professor at the University at Buffalo and he says the situation is raising major concerns, but there are things that can be done to combat AI disinformation.

"I think most importantly, the government should invest more in counter-technologies that can help people improve their awareness and resilience to disinformation," he said.

"Banning the technology may not be as helpful as we may think, because the technology has beneficial uses. So, just banning it would not be very effective. On the other hand, we do need to put in some regulations to prevent potential misuses, like spreading disinformation."