Monday, May 20, 2024

AI and the World of Disinformation

Last week I was watching TV and another story came on about artificial intelligence (AI) and it got me thinking. I said to my wife, “Congress is going to have to do something about this soon, or we’ll never be able to trust our eyes to ferret out the lies from the truth.”*

*It probably didn't sound as eloquent at the time, more like a series of meaningful grunts and gestures. But she knew what I meant.

I told her I ought to do a post about it this week and entered some notes into my phone, to avoid that dreaded blog post amnesia I always get…

“What the hell was I going to write about today?”

But in rolling through the news the next day, I saw that there was already a bill in progress. Naturally, the story was about how Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are trying to kill it.

I don’t know what’s in the bill, but I know what it should be. There’s a pretty simple metric to make it clear whether a creation should be illegal or not.

My law would include the following:

·        It is illegal to use AI to create a photograph or video of someone doing something they didn’t do and claim that it is an accurate depiction of the event.

·        It is illegal to use AI to manipulate audio to produce the sound of someone saying something they never said.

·        Any such media created for legitimate artistic or satiric purposes would be required to include a permanent watermark or indication showing that it is a fictional creation and not an actual event.

·        In addition to criminal penalties/jail time for the creators and original distributors, the person illegally portrayed would have the right to sue for damages commensurate with the seriousness of the infraction. The penalty has to have teeth, or else the rich pricks bankrolling these disinformation campaigns will just pay the fine as the “cost of doing business” and continue on their merry way. So a conviction has to hurt or else it’s worthless.

In all fairness, these things should be illegal no matter how they’re created, but I’m focusing on the AI end of it, because AI makes it so much more realistic, with minimal effort.

It’s important to be able to distinguish such things because we know that bad actors will use this tech to pursue their own nefarious ends. (Hi Russia!) If we can no longer differentiate real from fake, we are at the mercy of those who would create damaging truths out of thin air and use them to pull the public’s puppet strings.

What’s worse, when we DO see something real, the culprit will immediately scream, “But that wasn’t me, it was AI!” With such a law, if they claim it was AI and didn’t pursue damages, we’d know the claim is hollow. And of course, if someone does sue and it’s found to be baseless, similar penalties should apply. (We can call that the DJT Clause.)

Without such a law, we’ll end up living in a fantasy world, provided by whomever is the most persuasive in their AI-generated fabrications. Subjective truth will be nearly impossible to confirm.

There is probably a movie to be made about how future AI becomes self-aware, but can only look at the world through what AI has created, which could bear zero resemblance to the real world. It could either be a horror movie or flight of fantasy, depending on who’s making the movie.

So like I mentioned, the Republicans are against any such legislation. They know that their only hope for acquiring and maintaining power is a massive campaign of disinformation because their basic positions are horrific to anyone who’s not filthy rich, a religious zealot, or a raving racist/ sexist/ homophobe/general hate-monger. They have nothing they can point to as something they accomplished for the average American, other than giving them permission to hate people unlike themselves.

Mitch is wrapping himself in the blanket of the First Amendment, which he’s always FOR when Republicans are “speaking,” preferably with their wallets. Lord knows he doesn’t want any impediment to creating the fanciful lies they’ve concocted over the recent years. Mitch doesn’t care about right or wrong, or freedom of speech, he cares about power and money. With power comes money. That’s the Republican platform. And if the rest of us have to live in a dystopian future where no one knows fact from fiction, it’s all the better for him.



Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I think Scarlett Johannson would agree with you!

bluzdude said...

I saw that movie, Her, as well, and I totally understood how someone could fall in love with a robotic entity if it had ScoJo's voice.

Anonymous said...

AI does not ask permission.