"Disinformation Doomsday Scenario": AI-Powered Propaganda Is The Latest Threat To Humanity (That Must Be Censored)

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Jan 13, 2024 - 12:20 AM

The Trump-Russia hoax was one of the most notable disinformation operations in modern history. A major component of the hoax was the notion that Russia had influenced the 2016 US election through disinformation, and tricked the American public into electing Donald Trump.

In the fullness of time of course, it was revealed that the Clinton campaign, Obama administration, and their allies in corporate media had peddled fabricated information themselves. Yet, the threat of 'disinformation' has blossomed into an entire ecosystem of collaboration between governments and private think tanks which has been used to censor free speech around the globe. 

To that end, the World Economic Forum from has now declared "Disinformation" to be the world's greatest threat according to their 2024 "Global Risks Report," which will obviously require more control over free speech.

WEF founder and chairman, Klaus Schwab

As Jonathan Turley writes in a Friday note;

The report shows just how engrained this anti-free speech movement has become among the world elite from media to business to politics.

The absurd finding is consistent with the warning of other international figures and groups. We previously discussed how WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has supported censorship to combat what he calls the “infodemic.”

So “1,490 experts across academia, business, government, the international community and civil society” looked at all of the world’s military, economic, and environmental threats and concluded that the greatest threat to humanity is too much free speech. A “global risk” is defined as “the possibility of the occurrence of an event or condition which, if it occurs, would negatively impact a significant proportion of global GDP, population or natural resources.”

Turley points to how "experts" supported censorship and blacklisting (ahem) during the Covid crisis, and points to several examples.

Yet, we've now gone beyond simple 'disinformation.' The world is now under threat from 'AI-Powered' Disinformation!

According to the Financial Times, disinformation created via artificial intelligence is on the horizon. The outlet points to an incident during the September elections in Slovokia - in which a mysterious recording of the liberal opposition candidate, Michal Šimečka, could be heard plotting with a journalist to buy votes and rig the result. Yet, the recording was fake. The Slovokian police warned voters to be cautious online of nefarious actors with "vested interests."

image via AmolThorat

Šimečka lost the election to a populist "pro-Russia rival," which of course the FT uses to imply Russia was behind the recording, and the threat to democracy is greater than ever before!

Online disinformation has been a factor in elections for many years. But recent, rapid advances in AI technology mean that it is cheaper and easier than ever to manipulate media, thanks to a brisk new market of powerful tools such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, AI art start-up Midjourney or other text, audio and video generators. At the same time, manipulated or synthetic media is becoming increasingly hard to spot.

Already, realistic deepfakes have become a new front in the disinformation landscape around the Israel-Hamas and Russia-Ukraine conflicts. Now, they are poised to muddy the waters in electoral processes already tarnished by dwindling public trust in governments, institutions and democracy, together with sweeping illiberalism and political polarisation.

"The technologies reached this perfect trifecta of realism, efficiency and accessibility," said Henry Ajder, an expert on AI and deepfakes and adviser to Adobe, Meta and EY. "Concerns about the electoral impact were overblown until this year. And then things happened at a speed which I don’t think anyone was anticipating."

Authorities warn

In November, UK officials raised the prospect of "AI-created hyper-realistic bots" and increasingly advanced deepfake campaigns that could influence the country's election. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of US Senators recently proposed legislation which would ban "materially deceptive AI-generated" political ads.

This has put pressure on social media platforms, including Meta, Google’s YouTube, TikTok and X, to censor deepfakes and ramp up 'moderation' (censorship) when it comes to ambiguous media.

The report then warns that said social media giants are 'less equipped to do so than in previous big elections.'

Some, including Meta, trimmed their investment in teams dedicated to maintaining safe elections after the tech stock downturn in early 2023. In the case of Elon Musk’s X, content moderation resources have been cut back drastically as he vows to restore what he dubs free speech absolutism.

The efforts of the US-based tech groups to invest in fact-checking and tackling misinformation have also become politicised, as rightwing US politicians accuse them of colluding with the government and academics to censor conservative views. -FT

So - to recap, big tech is now afraid to censor because conservatives have accused them of censorship, and "Multiple left-leaning disinformation experts and academics warn this dynamic is forcing the platforms, universities and government agencies to pull away from election integrity initiatives and collaborations globally for fear of retribution."

Now, with the 'rising threat of AI deepfakes,' the Financial Times warns of a 'disinformation doomsday scenario' (not kidding, their words), in which "a viral undetectable deepfake will have a catastrophic impact on the democratic process — is no longer merely theoretical."

"I think that the combination of the chaos that the generative AI tools will enable and the drawback of the programmes that the platforms had in place to ensure election integrity is this unfolding disaster in front of our eyes," says one anonymous head of a digital research non-profit. "I’m extremely concerned that the victim will be democracy itself."

FT then goes on for thousands of words, describing examples and scenarios of the digital scourge and what we should do to stop it.

Bottom line, censorship isn't going away anytime soon.