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EU Calls for More Generative AI Safeguards to Address Deepfake Election Risks

The European Union has warned that widely accessible generative AI tools may pose a threat to free and fair elections, and is calling for more safeguards to be put in place.

EU Calls for More AI Safeguards to Mitigate Deepfake Election Risks

The European Union has warned that widely accessible generative AI tools may pose a threat to free and fair elections, and is calling for more safeguards to be put in place.

In a speech on September 26, 2023, EU Values and Transparency Commissioner Věra Jourová said that AI-generated disinformation is a potential threat to elections ahead of the pan-European Parliament elections in 2024.

"Deepfakes are becoming increasingly sophisticated and difficult to detect," Jourová said. "They could be used to spread misinformation about candidates, to manipulate public opinion, or even to sow discord and division."

Jourová called on tech companies to do more to combat the spread of deepfakes, and on EU member states to consider new legislation to regulate the use of AI.

"We need to act now to ensure that our elections are not undermined by deepfakes," she said.

Deepfakes are videos or audio recordings that have been manipulated to make it appear as if someone is saying or doing something they never actually said or did. They can be used for a variety of purposes, including spreading misinformation, blackmailing people, or even creating fake news stories.

The rise of deepfakes has raised concerns about their potential impact on elections. In 2016, for example, a deepfake video of then-US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was circulated online. The video, which showed Clinton appearing to have a seizure, was widely shared on social media and was believed by many to be real.

Experts say that deepfakes could be used to manipulate public opinion in elections in a number of ways. For example, they could be used to create fake videos or audio recordings of candidates making inflammatory or offensive statements. They could also be used to create fake news stories about candidates' personal lives or health.

In addition to the threat of misinformation, deepfakes could also be used to sow discord and division in the lead-up to an election. For example, they could be used to create fake videos of candidates being violent or committing crimes. They could also be used to create fake social media posts that incite hatred or violence.

The European Union is not the only government that is concerned about the potential impact of deepfakes on elections. In the United States, for example, the US House of Representatives has passed a bill that would make it illegal to knowingly create or distribute deepfakes of political candidates within 60 days of an election.

However, some experts have warned that it may be difficult to regulate deepfakes. They argue that deepfake technology is constantly evolving, and that it will be difficult to stay one step ahead of those who are using it for malicious purposes.

Despite the challenges, experts say that it is important to take steps to mitigate the risks of deepfakes. They recommend that tech companies invest in tools to detect and remove deepfakes from their platforms. They also recommend that governments educate the public about the dangers of deepfakes and how to identify them.

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