Measures needed to thwart spread online of manipulated information
The following editorial appeared in Sunday’s Japan News-Yomiuri:
Fake videos misusing artificial intelligence are spreading on the internet. Is the information coming from a credible source? Is the content reliable? It is important to be aware of them on a daily basis.
A video of U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi looking drunk while giving a lecture was disseminated online in May. The video was deliberately slowed down, and it is not clear who posted it online. Seemingly aimed at smearing her, it was viewed more than 3 million times.
The forgery of still images and falsification of printed materials have been around for a long time. In recent years, it has become possible to superimpose the movements of other people’s lips and facial expressions onto celebrities’ faces using AI learning functions. Artificial audio can be used to create videos of real-life figures saying falsified lines.
“Deep fake” is a coined word that combines AI deep learning and fake.
It is concerning that this technology could be abused to manipulate information in order to disrupt society.
In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, false information to attack candidates was circulated online, and Russia was accused of involvement. There are fears that more sophisticated intervention could take place using fake videos in the 2020 presidential election.
This situation threatens fair elections, which are the foundation of democracy. Thus measures to deal with this should be urgently devised.
Experts warn that if such false information spreads in the field of military information, national security could be threatened.
Short videos are posted on social media one after another. They are shared among like-minded people and spread instantly. The nature of the internet heightens the danger of fake videos.
Concerns over the manipulation of information are also growing in Japan.
During the House of Councillors election in July, a bogus post spread that claimed “the salaries of Diet members will be raised.”
In 2013, the ban on online campaigning for national and local elections was lifted. In the recent upper house election, an increasing number of people posted videos on social media. Caution cannot be neglected against politically motivated inducements.
Broadcasters receive images of accident sites, among other materials, from outside sources. There was a case in which a broadcaster was forced to apologize for airing video of a similar incident that had happened in the past.
In May, a panel of experts under the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry began full-fledged discussions on measures to deal with false information. It must draw up effective measures by referring to each country.
The internet is an indispensable platform as a tool for obtaining information and connecting with other people. Information should be understood correctly while using the internet.