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Artificial Intelligence

AI is creating an alternative reality where even Tom Hanks can't be trusted

Like Tom Hanks, victims of AI-generated trickery will need help getting out the message that they are not the ones who generated the content that's being ascribed to them.

Evan Nierman
Opinion contributor

“BEWARE!! There’s a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me,” actor Tom Hanks announced on Sunday. “I have nothing to do with it.”

A photo of the A-lister that appears to have been used for the ad’s AI modeling was posted online as far back as 2014.

Welcome to the world of artificial intelligence, probably the biggest earthquake to come along since the adoption of smartphones, blurring the lines between fantasy and fact.

The axiom “seeing is believing” soon will be obsolete. We are approaching an alternative reality like the fantastical world depicted in Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass.”

And we already may be there.

AI-generated models posing as real-life influencers are upping the ante when it comes to unrealistic beauty standards and flooding the internet with images of unattainable perfection. Being "fake" no longer refers to plastic surgery or cosmetic enhancements.

And that book you’re reading? Who really wrote it? A group of famous authors have filed a class-action lawsuit against OpenAI claiming they are victims of mass copyright infringement in the form of AI-produced books that mined their content.

Where do we draw the line on what is ethical?

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DeSantis campaign posted AI-generated photos to attack Trump

In June, an account associated with presidential candidate Ron DeSantis published three photos that appear to show former President Donald Trump embracing Anthony Fauci, the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. AI was used to create all three.

Like Tom Hanks, victims of AI-generated trickery will need help getting out the message that they are not the ones who generated the content that's being ascribed to them. The value of human expertise and decision-making in crisis management will become even more evident. 

Actor Tom Hanks says artificial intelligence was used to create an advertisement featuring his image without his permission.

The AI revolution will have permanent repercussions beyond anything we can perhaps imagine today. Soon, organizations exploring and implementing the use of AI will invite unprecedented levels of risk.

Deepfake AI is now being used to create voice clones, convincing images and video hoaxes, all of which can be used to destroy an individual’s reputation or livelihood.

Trump, DeSantis deepfakes:Trump unleashes sophomoric DeSantis deepfake. GOP should support a grownup for president.

AI-generated scams are being used to exploit victims

The Federal Trade Commission’s recent advisory on AI-enabled voice scams illustrates the kind of mayhem this new technology can incite. A scammer using AI can clone someone’s voice to trick their relatives out of money or personal information. Hackers and extortionists are sure to exploit the technology.

Earlier this year, executives from OpenAI, Microsoft, Google and other tech companies called for limited regulation of AI. They sounded the alarm after the Center for AI Safety released a statement declaring that “mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”

Those sobering words should get our attention fast, but so far, the U.S. government has taken no decisive action to establish any guardrails. The European Union approved the Artificial Intelligence Act in June but encountered immediate pushback from OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman, who said his company would cease operations in Europe if it were unable to comply.

Don't pause AI:Pausing AI development would be a mistake. Congress shouldn't meddle – for now.

The monetary impact to a company’s bottom line appears to be the real issue. But at what cost to the public?

In June, Human Rights Watch noted that AI systems “disproportionately target already marginalized communities, undermine legal and procedural rights, as well as contributing to mass surveillance.” Knowing how to navigate this emerging technology through the lens of crisis management will be vital.

We reside in a brave new world with no script, no best practices and unprecedented challenges. AI’s capabilities and limitations are being discovered and implemented in real time. We are entering a world where AI may ultimately prove to be the cause of crises as well as the tool that resolves them.

Evan Nierman is founder and CEO of the crisis communications firm Red Banyan

Evan Nierman is founder and CEO of the crisis communications firm Red Banyan and author of "Crisis Averted" and "The Cancel Culture Curse: From Rage to Redemption in a World Gone Mad."

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