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Deepfake of Principal's Voice Highlights Concerns over Misuse of AI

Deepfake technology has become increasingly accessible, allowing anyone with an internet connection to manipulate audio and visual content. The deepfake recording of a principal's voice in Maryland led to serious consequences, including the principal being forced to go on leave and facing hate-filled messages on social media. Experts emphasise the need for better regulation and responsible use of AI technology to prevent the misuse of deepfake technology.

In this case, the principal was framed as racist by a fake recording of his voice, leading experts to emphasise that everyone should be worried about the increasing power of deepfake technology.


According to Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who specialises in digital forensics and misinformation, "Everybody is vulnerable to attack, and anyone can do the attacking."


One of the key factors contributing to the rise of deepfake technology is its accessibility. Manipulating recorded sounds and images has been possible for some time, but the ease with which information can now be altered and spread quickly on social media is a recent development.


Generative AI, a subset of artificial intelligence, is responsible for creating hyper-realistic new images, videos, and audio clips. It has become cheaper and easier to use in recent years, making it accessible to anyone with an internet connection.


"Particularly over the last year, anybody - and I really mean anybody - can go to an online service," said Farid. "And either for free or for a few bucks a month, they can upload 30 seconds of someone's voice."


The cloned speech is generated from words typed on a keyboard, using machine learning algorithms that capture the person's voice. This technology is expected to become even more powerful and easier to use, including for video manipulation.


In the Maryland case, the athletic director at Pikesville High, Dazhon Darien, cloned Principal Eric Eiswert's voice and created a fake recording containing racist and antisemitic comments. The recording was initially sent via email to some teachers before spreading on social media.


The incident occurred after Eiswert raised concerns about Darien's work performance and alleged misuse of school funds. As a result of the bogus audio, Eiswert was forced to go on leave, while his house was guarded by the police. The school received angry phone calls, and hate-filled messages accumulated on social media.


Detectives called in outside experts to analyse the recording, with one expert stating that it "contained traces of AI-generated content with human editing after the fact." Hany Farid, who also examined the recording, found that "multiple recordings were spliced together."


While the exact details of how the recording was created remain unclear, Farid believes that the Maryland case serves as a warning about the need for better regulation of this technology.


The concerns surrounding AI-generated disinformation are not limited to audio. Experts warn of programs that create fake nude images of clothed people without their consent, including minors. Even celebrities like Taylor Swift have been targeted.


To address these issues, some providers of AI voice-generating technology have implemented measures to prohibit harmful usage. Some require voice signatures or unique sets of sentences to be recited before cloning a voice. Larger tech companies like Facebook and OpenAI limit access to trusted users due to the risks of abuse.


However, more needs to be done. Farid suggests that companies should require users to submit phone numbers and credit cards to trace back files to those who misuse the technology. Another proposal is to add digital watermarks to recordings and images, allowing software to identify any modifications that may not be perceptible to the human ear.


Alexandra Reeve Givens, CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology, emphasises the importance of law enforcement action against criminal use of AI and the need for consumer education. Responsible conduct among AI companies and social media platforms is also crucial, although finding international agreement on ethics and guidelines remains a challenge.

 
  • Deepfake technology has become increasingly accessible, allowing anyone with an internet connection to manipulate audio and visual content.

  • The deepfake recording of a principal's voice in Maryland led to serious consequences, including the principal being forced to go on leave and facing hate-filled messages on social media.

  • Experts emphasise the need for better regulation and responsible use of AI technology to prevent the misuse of deepfake technology.


Source: AP NEWS

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