Campaign India Team
Nov 10, 2023

The dark side of AI: When 'seeing' is not 'believing'

SOUNDING BOARD: Experts weigh in on the risks associated with the rise of AI tech such as deepfake after the deepfake viral video of actor Rashmika Mandanna and centre's response to it

Rashmika Mandanna (Left); Zara Patel (Right) in screen grabs from the videos
Rashmika Mandanna (Left); Zara Patel (Right) in screen grabs from the videos
The recently viral ‘Rashmika Mandanna video’ and the uproar surrounding it on social media after it was discovered that the video in fact was a deepfake version of British-Indian influencer Zara Patel, yet again spotlights AI’s 'deepfake' problem.
After several celebrities including actor, Amitabh Bachchan expressed their concerns over the matter with the latter calling it ‘a strong case for legal’, MoS (Electronics and Information Technology of India) Rajeev Chandrasekhar posted in response to the controversy on X: “Deepfakes are latest and even more dangerous and damaging form of misinformation and needs to be dealt with by platforms”.

Later, the Government also issued an advisory in this regard, mandating social media platforms to identify and remove all such content that spreads misinformation from their platforms "within 36 hours" of it getting reported. 
Recently US signed a far-reaching executive order on artificial intelligence that aims to safeguard against such threats. The sweeping new presidential order would set national rules on the rapidly growing technology that has big potential but also comes with risks.
To get to the crux of the problem, Campaign India asked industry experts to weigh in on the matter, asking them: Does this latest deepfake scam signal an urgent need for a legal and regulatory framework in India to deal with the (mis)use of AI and deepfake content? Or is it upto the social media platforms to take the onus on themselves and curb the spread of such content? 
Mithila Saraf, chief executive officer, Famous Innovations
The need for regulation is definitely urgent and significant, but it is also unrealistic to think that these problems will be curbed so easily. Any new technology comes with its own set of problems. We haven't even figured out how to handle the evils of social media yet and social media is now nearly 2 decades old. So working around AI, which is evolving every day at a much faster pace than social media ever did, will take time. 
The only solutions possible in such a state are large, sweeping and absolute ones. We need unbelievable thinkers like someone who says, children should not be allowed internet access until the age of 18. Just like they can't vote, drive or drink, they should not be able to go online. Whatever content is suitable and required for them can be downloaded by parents and teachers and provided to them. Does this sound far too utopian? Of course. But it is radical measures like these that are required at times when we are dealing with technology that none of us truly understand.
Narayan Devanathan, group chief strategic advisor, Dentsu
The language and conversations around it, especially from lawmakers (whether Rajeev Chandrasekhar or Joe Biden) and opinion makers (like Amitabh Bachchan), is quite telling. To treat it as a legal/ technological problem primarily. And it is right actually, because as humans have repeatedly demonstrated, we’re incapable of using dangerous technology responsibly. Remember guns? The gun-loving lobby will cry hoarse about the absolute right to bear arms and that 'guns don’t kill people, people kill people, so what’s the point in outlawing guns?'
I don’t see any of them saying 'deepfakes don’t ruin people, people ruin people, so what’s the point in outlawing deepfakes?' And while the likes of Joe Biden may not have shown the gumption to pass strict gun laws, I’m glad to see that they’re at least jumping onto the bandwagon early in this case. There’s an urban legend around the drafting of the U.S. Constitution that the founding fathers started with one principle to put in checks and balances: people cannot be trusted, especially with power. That holds true in the case of (mis)use of AI and deepfakes. So yes, bring on the strict regulatory frameworks already.
There’s an old and famous anodyne that corporates use to try and 'humanise' themselves: companies are people too. I’m going to use it in this case to equate the (online) platforms with people with regard to the same character flaw: they can’t be trusted, especially with power. To expect platforms to take the onus on themselves to curb the spread of content is like arming them with a lot more matches and flammable liquid and asking them to make sure the fire doesn’t spread. The platforms have shown themselves to be incapable or unwilling to curb the massive spread of fake news. I don’t hold out much hope about their self and other-regulating capabilities when it comes to the (mis)use of AI and deepfakes either.

Samir Asher, co-founder and COO, Tonic Worldwide 

This is just the tip of the iceberg, as the technology gets mainstream, bad actors will use it to their advantage. It requires a holistic approach where both the regulatory framework and the platforms will have to step in and create barriers for the misuse of the technology. In my opinion, the platforms on their part will develop systems that will be able to detect deepfake and flag off the content or add a note so the user is aware of its authenticity and also create efficient processes for user reporting and taking down manipulated content. X, Facebook and Instagram, etc, can easily develop a tech that flags off if the content is deepfake.


Campaign India

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