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Debasmita Ghosh
Debasmita Ghosh

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AI Misinformation: How They Are Posing Threats & Ways to Overcome Them

AI ( Artificial Intelligence), a revolutionary next-gen technology, played a pivotal role in reshaping our lives in several positive ways. But unfortunately, there’s a darker side too! We can’t deny the fact that the deceitful usage of this technology for purposes like generating and spreading misinformation has misguided us by creating severe concerns. A viral and deceptive campaign just one and half years ago before the 2024 president’s election in the U.S.A. is a clear testament to this fact! So, how did this AI misinformation mislead the people? Find this answer besides getting an in-depth understanding of this misinformation, its risks, and ways to combat it from the following part of this blog!

AI Misinformation Created Major Concern Before 2024 Election in the U.S.A

About a year and a half before the 2024 presidential election, the Republican National Committee ( RNC) did something rare in its attack ads against President Joe Biden.
They used a generative AI to generate a political ad showing a different version of reality with a clear bias – an imagined America if Biden won again. In this ad, you'd see images of masses of migrants crossing into the US, talks of an impending world war, and soldiers patrolling empty American streets. There's a tiny disclaimer at the top left saying it's "Built entirely with AI imagery," but it's quite easy to miss!
The impact of such an ad on American voters was substantial, and it wouldn't be surprising if it influenced Mr. Biden's voter base significantly. There’s no doubt that living in an era where technology blurs the line between fact and fiction, the challenges of navigating disinformation in politics become more complex than ever before.
However, politics is just among many sectors getting impacted badly by AI misinformation. Take a look at the other major sectors, facing troubles.

Finance: Market Manipulation Got Easier

In the financial world, AI misinformation can lead to rapid market fluctuations. By disseminating false information, malicious actors can manipulate stock prices, leading to financial losses for investors. AI-driven trading algorithms can exacerbate the impact, amplifying market swings triggered by misleading data.

Social Media: Polarization and Disruption

Social media platforms are fertile grounds for AI-generated misinformation. Automated bots can spread divisive content, deepening political polarization and sowing discord. Misleading news stories, fake reviews, and fabricated endorsements can deceive users, eroding trust in online content.

Healthcare: False Medical Information

In the medical field, AI-generated misinformation can be a matter of life and death. Misleading health advice, fake clinical trial results, and phony medical studies can lead individuals to make harmful health decisions based on false information.

Cybersecurity: Phishing Attacks

AI-powered phishing attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Misinformation campaigns can deceive individuals into revealing sensitive information, compromising personal and corporate cybersecurity.

Education: Plagiarism and Fraud Detection

AI-generated content can facilitate academic misconduct. Students can use AI to produce essays and assignments, undermining the educational process. Similarly, unscrupulous researchers may use AI to generate fake academic papers.

Journalism: Fake News

AI-generated articles and reports can mimic reputable news sources, making it challenging to discern fact from fiction. This erodes trust in journalism and exacerbates the spread of false narratives.

How AI Misinformation is Posing Threats?

Surprisingly, studies indicate that AI-generated misinformation can be even more convincing than false content crafted by humans! Here’s how misinformation is creating severe threats.

1. Creation of Convincing Falsehoods

Generative AI, OpenAI's GPT models, for instance, can create credible and plausible texts. This feature makes it easier than ever to create deceiving misinformation that can cheat even the most discerning individuals. AI-generated content can mimic the tone and style of legitimate news sources, making it challenging to distinguish between true and false ones.

2. Amplification on Social Media

Disinformation thrives on social media platforms, and AI is a key facilitator. Bots and algorithms can intensify misleading content, ensuring it reaches a wider audience. These AI-driven accounts can mimic human behavior, engaging in discussions, sharing content, and trending hashtags, further blurring the line between authentic and fabricated information.

3. Micro-targeting and Personalization

Generative AI allows disinformation campaigns to tailor their messages to specific demographics and individuals. By analyzing a vast range of data, AI can craft personalized content that resonates with individuals' beliefs and biases. This micro-targeting makes it highly effective at swaying public opinion and manipulating voter behavior, as seen in recent elections.

4. Deepfakes and Visual Deception

While text-based misinformation is concerning, AI has also made significant strides in creating convincing deep fake videos and images. Deepfakes use AI to superimpose individuals' faces onto fabricated content, making it appear as though they are saying or doing things they never did. This visual deception can be used for purposes like tarnishing reputations, inciting violence, or spreading false narratives.

5. Challenges in Detection

As AI-generated disinformation becomes more sophisticated, detecting it becomes increasingly challenging. Traditional fact-checking methods struggle to keep up with the sheer volume of content produced. AI-based detection tools are being developed, but they are in a constant race against AI-generated misinformation.

So, What to Do?

Enhanced Focus on AI Tools Advancements

One of the most promising ways to handle AI disinformation is through smarter AI itself. Developing advanced algorithms and machine learning models makes it easier to detect and flag potentially misleading content. These AI-driven solutions can analyze patterns, cross-reference information, and spot anomalies in real time, providing a crucial early warning system against disinformation campaigns.

Imposing Strict Laws and Regulations

Governments of each and every country have to play a big role over there. By imposing strict laws and regulations, they need to take rigorous steps against those who create and disseminate disinformation accountable. Penalties for malicious AI-driven disinformation campaigns can deter bad actors and discourage the spread of false information.

Increased Media Literacy

Promoting media literacy is an essential component of preventing AI disinformation. Educating the public on how to critically assess information sources, fact-check claims, and recognize common disinformation tactics can empower individuals to make informed decisions. Schools, community organizations, and online platforms can play a vital role in providing media literacy training.

Studying Content Sources

To effectively combat AI disinformation, we must understand its sources and origins. Conducting comprehensive studies on the content sources and the motivations behind disinformation campaigns can help us anticipate and counteract future threats. Researchers can delve into the tactics, techniques, and procedures employed by disinformation actors, shedding light on their strategies.

Developing Transparency

One way to tackle AI disinformation is to promote transparency in AI-generated content. Developers can embed digital signatures or watermarks in AI-generated content to indicate its origin. It can help users distinguish between legitimate and potentially misleading information. Encouraging tech companies to adopt transparency practices can also foster trust in the content people encounter online.

Promoting Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking is a powerful tool against disinformation. By fostering critical thinking skills in individuals, we empower them to question the information they encounter, assess its credibility, and seek out diverse perspectives. Schools, universities, and educational institutions should prioritize critical thinking education as part of their curriculum.

Supporting Ethical AI Development

Ethical AI development practices are essential in the fight against AI disinformation. Developers should prioritize responsible AI design, ensuring that AI systems are not used to create or amplify false narratives. AI ethics boards and guidelines can help guide the responsible use of AI technology.

Perspective from Tech Giants

Now have a look at the thoughts of the leading tech giants and the measures they are following to deal with this issue.

Google emphasizes its commitment to connecting users with reliable information and responsible AI usage. They provide users with tools to assess information quality, including literacy tools on Google Search. Google also explores innovative techniques like watermarking and metadata for improved content evaluation.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, applies consistent policies to AI-generated content, subjecting it to the same rules as other content, including misinformation regulations. They leverage AI advancements such as Few Shot Learner, introduced in 2021, to swiftly identify and address harmful content.

Microsoft gives the top priority to fighting disinformation through generative AI. Their Chief Scientific Officer, Eric Horvitz, highlights their vigilance in monitoring bad actors' use of AI for manipulative deep fakes.

Microsoft's multifaceted approach encompasses cybersecurity, tracking deepfake evolution, content detection, and filtering, along with preventing the promotion of harmful or discriminatory content, aligning with their AI principles.

Final Words

The ominous shadow cast by AI misinformation cannot be ignored. But the best thing we can do is to mitigate the risks of this misleading information. And to do it successfully, we should take thoughtful steps that start with the careful and judgemental usage of AI-generated information!

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