UN Warns of AI-Generated Deepfakes Fueling Hate and Misinformation Online
The United Nations has sounded the alarm over AI-generated deepfakes being used to spread hate and misinformation on social media. In a report released Monday, “Information Integrity on Digital Platforms,” the global organization underscored the need for responsible AI use.
«While holding almost unimaginable potential to address global challenges, there are serious and urgent concerns about the equally powerful potential of recent advances in artificial intelligence—including image generators and video deepfakes to threaten information integrity,» the UN report said.
Information integrity refers to the accuracy, consistency, and reliability of information, which the United Nations says is threatened by disinformation, misinformation, and hate speech.
«These risks have further intensified because of rapid advancements in technology, such as generative artificial intelligence,» United Nations Secretary-General Guterres wrote in the introduction to the report. «It has become clear that business as usual is not an option.»
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Generative AI is a type of program, normally presented in the form of a chatbot, that’s capable of generating text, images, or other media in response to prompts.
The United Nations report expressed concerns about the effect of deepfakes and AI-generated misinformation in conflict zones.
The use of hate speech has often been observed as a forerunner to atrocious crimes like genocide, the UN notes. The report also highlights that the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide prohibits any direct or public incitement that can lead to genocide.
The proliferation of hate & lies in the digital space is causing grave global harm.
This clear & present global threat demands clear & coordinated global action.
– @antonioguterres launching his new report on information integrity on digital platforms. https://t.co/atXRvwOwXv pic.twitter.com/i5MjAkWSNy
— United Nations (@UN) June 12, 2023
While it did not give specific examples, the UN report drew attention to recent cases of generative AI being used to create, in some instances, convincingly misleading content and images.
In March, an AI-generated image of former President Donald Trump being arrested went viral after it was shared on Twitter by Bellingcat founder and creative director Eliot Higgins. That same month, Midjourney, the company behind the text-to-image AI generator of the same name, ended its free trial version because of widespread abuse.
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«All stakeholders should take urgent and immediate measures to ensure the safe, secure, responsible, ethical and human rights compliant use of artificial intelligence and address the implications of recent advances in this field for the spread of mis- and disinformation and hate speech,» the UN said.
The report called on the owners of digital platforms to invest in content moderation systems that utilize both human and artificial intelligence for all languages used in the countries they operate—and to make content reporting transparent.
Saying that the era of Silicon Valley’s “move fast and break things” philosophy must end, the international body said user privacy, security, and transparency are essential and should be built into new technology from the beginning.
Guterres pointed to the upcoming Summit of the Future in 2024 as an opportunity to agree on multilateral solutions.
«The challenges that we are facing can be addressed only through stronger international cooperation,» Secretary-General Guterres said.