How AI and deepfakes are changing politics | BBC News

The use of AI and deepfakes in politics has raised concerns about the manipulation of information and trust in government and institutions. Politicians are both victims and perpetrators of deepfake technology, with examples from various countries highlighting the global impact on political communication and the potential erosion of public trust.

The use of AI and deepfakes in politics has become a growing concern, with prominent figures like Taylor Swift and politicians such as US President Joe Biden, UK Labour leader Keir Starmer, and London’s mayor Sadiq Khan falling victim to deepfakes. These manipulated videos and audio recordings, created using AI-powered tools, have been widely shared on social media platforms, blurring the lines between reality and fiction and causing mistrust among the public. The prevalence of deepfakes has raised alarms about the potential for abuse of this technology and its impact on trust in government and institutions.

In a surprising turn of events, politicians themselves are now using deepfake technology for their own purposes. Mayor Eric Adams of New York City admitted to using deepfake technology to create automated calls to residents, promoting city-owned venues and speaking multiple languages. This has sparked concerns among privacy campaigners like Albert Fox Khan, who warn of the dangerous precedent set by normalizing the use of deepfakes for official government communications. The mayor’s actions have raised questions about the reliability of deepfakes and the implications for public trust in government announcements.

The political use of deepfake technology is not limited to Western countries, as seen in examples from India, Indonesia, and Argentina. In India, a ruling party candidate used deepfake technology to speak in different regional dialects without disclosure to the audience, leading to backlash from the party. Similarly, in Indonesia, a synthetic avatar of a deceased leader was resurrected to endorse a candidate, while in Argentina, AI-generated images were used to depict opponents as weak and portray themselves as heroes. These instances highlight the global reach and potential impact of deepfakes on political communication.

As the use of deepfake technology in politics continues to rise worldwide, concerns about increasing distrust in media and politicians have been raised. With an estimated 2 billion people participating in elections this year, the stakes are higher than ever in discerning political fact from fake. The widespread adoption of deepfakes in political communication could further erode trust in institutions and sow confusion among voters. It is crucial to address the ethical implications of deepfake technology in politics and ensure transparency in its use to maintain public trust and integrity in the democratic process.