PRESS RELEASE: ‘Deep Fakes’ of UK Politicians Call for Policies to Combat Misinformation
‘Partly Political’ Broadcasts use AI synthesised personas of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn to raise awareness to lack of regulation concerning misinformation online.
AI synthesised videos depicting Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn endorsing each other for Prime Minister have been released by Bill Posters and the Future Advocacy think tank, in an intervention to raise awareness of the dangers surrounding online disinformation.
Bill Posters states that:
“For this series of ‘partly political’ broadcasts we’ve taken the biometric data of famous UK politicians to synthesise their personas and raise awareness to the fact that without greater controls and protections concerning personal data and powerful new technologies, misinformation poses a direct risk to everyone’s human rights including the rights of those in positions of power.”
The think tank are using the videos to crowdsource potential policy solutions to the threat of deepfakes and new machine learning technologies on democracy and society more widely. This is the first time deepfakes of political candidates have been released during a live election.
The videos depict Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, in election-style addresses, endorsing each other to be the next Prime Minister before revealing themselves as deepfakes and warning against the threat of unregulated technologies on society.
Areeq Chowdhury, Head of Think Tank at Future Advocacy, said:
“Deepfakes represent a threat to democracy and society more widely. They can be used to fuel misinformation and totally undermine trust in audiovisual content.
Despite endless warnings over the past few years, politicians have collectively failed to address the issue of disinformation online. Instead the response has been to defer to tech companies to do more. The responsibility for protecting our democracy lies in the corridors of Westminster not the boardrooms of Silicon Valley.
By releasing these videos, we aim to use shock and humour to educate the public and put pressure on our lawmakers. We urge all political parties to work together to update our laws and protect society from the threat of deepfakes, fake news, and dark political adverts online.”
In the light of the current debate concerning misinformation online, the recent decision by Facebook to allow politicians to create paid-for political advertisements that contain lies and with twitter recently banning all political advertising on its platform because of a lack of control, the pressure is on for politicians to hold powerful tech companies to account and limit the impacts of divisive new technologies on democratic processes.
Bill Posters said:
“It’s staggering that after 3 years, the recommendations from the DCMS Select Committee enquiry into fake news or the Information Commissioner’s Office enquiry into the Cambridge Analytica scandals have not been applied to change UK laws to protect our liberty and democracy. As a result, the conditions for computational forms of propaganda and misinformation campaigns to be amplified by social media platforms are still in effect today. We’re calling on all UK political parties to apply parliaments own findings and safeguard future elections.”
Only last week, Facebook, the company at the heart of numerous misinformation scandals, changed their policy on political ads to allow them to profit from politicians telling lies in paid political adverts, essentially legitimising targeted misinformation campaigns. Facebook’s own staff are calling for the policy to be changed and many others want to see a ban on political advertising on Facebook and Google during this UK election cycle as it is clear that neither the government nor the tech giants are in control of these powerful systems of surveillance and misinformation. Twitter has just banned political advertising because they can’t control it, the government should force Facebook and Google to do the same and ban the practice of micro-targeted advertising completely. This issue needs cross party support to protect the integrity of our democratic processes.”
You can learn more about the process my team used to create these synthesised videos in this BBC news feature here.
BBC News (Feature)
I want to extend a huge thanks to the creative and technical team involved with my company in creating these moving image works. Special thanks to Omer and Jonathan at CannyAI, Michelle Tylicki and the hhugely talented impressionist Darren Altman.
Visit the Future Advocacy website to learn more about their advocacy work concerning new technologies and their impacts on democracy.