Humans have a tendency to believe what they see, but what if what they see is just an illusion? How do we make sense of the world that we live in?
Deciphering what’s true is only going to get harder in the age of AI. We are already seeing articles generated by AI, filled with “hallucinations” — that is, information being presented as truth that appears to not be based on any real data. What will the continued effect of AI be on journalism and journalists? Daily, social media is filled with AI-generated imagery of real people doing imaginary things. And telling what is real isn’t always easy. This is not an entirely new phenomenon. Photoshop has existed for quite some time. But what’s unprecedented is how quickly images can be manipulated without much skill required, unlike its predecessor.
In particular, deep fakes are a major concern. All it takes is 15 minutes of audio to replicate anybody’s voice with convincing effect. Video created by generative AI can appear as convincing as the real thing, even today, but in time, it will only get better. This gives bad actors an opportunity to create and disseminate difficult-to-refute disinformation, particularly through social media. Meanwhile, tools to identify deep fakes are thoroughly lacking. As the technological development accelerates, the guardrails can’t keep up. And while some companies are working on inserting metadata that will allow us to identify generative visuals, some experts believe that we’ll never be able to put the genie back in the lamp.
What role will deep fakes play in upcoming elections around the world? So much of our worldview is shaped by what media we consume. If our perception of reality is based on false information, our decision-making apparatus is threatened. As is the very nature of democracy. How can we protect truthful discourse that’s essential for a healthy democratic society?
Katherine Brodsky is a journalist, author, essayist, and commentator—who has been taking an especially keen interest in emerging technologies and their impact on society. She has contributed to publications such as Variety, The Washington Post, WIRED, The Guardian, Esquire, Newsweek, Mashable, and many others. Over the years, she has interviewed a diverse range of intriguing personalities, including numerous Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Pulitzer, and Nobel Prize winners and nominees—including the Dalai Lama. She’s the author of the upcoming book No Apologies: How to Find Our Voice in the Age of Outrage (Jan 30/24)