AI Media Manipulator Systems a Potential Threat in Upcoming US Election, Study Says


Then US president Barack Obama casting a vote during the 2016 elections. / Photo by: White House via Wikimedia Commons


DeepFakes is an AI-based engine that gained the spotlight in 2017 when certain videos were uploaded on social media platforms. A study published in the Center for a New American Security warns that the engine may affect the results of the 2020 election.

DeepFakes is an AI-based human image synthesis technology that recycles existing images and videos in datasets to produce a new media. Many scenarios, such as celebrities in obscene videos, have been produced by this technology. Now, a team of researchers warns of its influence in the upcoming US election. 

According to the study authors, the AI technique can be potentially applied to the following areas linked to elections:

- Authoritarian Regimes: Authorities may control the flow of news in social media platforms. If so, they can use bots to run this type of management.

- Electoral Process: AI bots can be used to either amplify or weaken messages for sub-groups. One example is the creation of political ads to manipulate the perception of voters.

- Future Targeting Efforts: Announcements, advertisements, news, and other messaging means may be managed by AI systems. These systems may be tweaked to select particular audiences, distribute misleading information, and even launch phishing mechanisms.

- Social Media: The amount of information processed by an AI system depends on the number of accessible sources. Private firms can control data collection if they desire, which may result in either the promotion or demotion of specific content.

“AI systems are capable of generating realistic-sounding synthetic voice recordings of any individual for whom there is a sufficiently large voice training dataset. The same is increasingly true for video,” wrote the study authors.

The many governments are now developing fake video detectors to protect populations from viewing misleading videos. DeepFakes are not evil tools on their own. In fact, the technology has been used in Tron Legacy to feature the physical appearances of Jeff Bridges in the 1982 film.