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Dance videos with Indian prime minister raise concern about AI in elections

A video produced with artificial intelligence shows an ecstatic Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi dancing on a stage to a Bollywood song as the crowd cheers. The prime minister shared the video on X and said that “this creativity during the height of the electoral period is truly delightful”.

Another video, with the same setup, shows the prime minister's rival, Mamata Banerjee, dancing in traditional Indian clothing, but the background soundtrack is parts of her speech criticizing those who left her party to join Modi's. Police launched an investigation saying the video could “affect law and order”.

The differing reactions to videos created using AI tools highlight how the use and abuse of technology is increasing and creating concerns for regulators and security officials as the world's most populous country holds its national election.

AI videos that contain near-perfect shadow and hand movements can sometimes fool even digitally literate people. But the risks are greater in a country where many of the 1.4 billion people have technological difficulties and where manipulated content can easily provoke sectarian tensions, especially around election time.

According to research by the World Economic Forum published in January, the risk to India from disinformation is considered greater than the risk from infectious diseases or illicit economic activities over the next two years.

“India is already at high risk of misinformation — with AI in the picture, it could spread at 100x speed,” said consultant Sagar Vishnoi, who is advising some political parties on the use of AI in India’s elections. .

“Older people, who are generally not a tech-savvy group, increasingly fall for false narratives aided by AI videos. This can have serious consequences, such as triggering hatred against a community, caste or religion.”

The 2024 national election — which is being held in six weeks and will end on June 1 — is the first in which AI is being implemented. The initial examples were innocent, restricted to a few politicians who used the technology to create videos and audio to personalize their campaigns.

But major cases of misuse made headlines in April, including deepfakes of Bollywood actors criticizing Modi and fake videos involving two of the prime minister's top aides that led to the arrests of nine people.

Last week, the Election Commission of India warned political parties against using AI to spread misinformation and shared seven provisions of information technology and other laws that attract jail terms of up to three years for offenses including forgery, promoting rumors and enmity.

A national security official in New Delhi said authorities are concerned that fake news could lead to unrest. The easy availability of AI tools makes it possible to manufacture such fake news, especially during elections, and it is difficult to combat them, she said.

AI and deepfakes are increasingly being used in elections in other parts of the world, including in the United States, Pakistan and Indonesia. The latest spread of the videos in India shows the challenges faced by authorities.

Source: CNN Brasil

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