El País, a Spanish daily, reported that the regime of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela is using AI-generated newscasters to spread disinformation that only portrays their narrative in a favorable light. This highlights how the regime utilizes technology to further its agenda.
In a report by Venezuelan NGO Cazadores de Fake News, ‘journalists’ Daren and Noah, appearing in multiple digital newscasts with English speech, are confirmed to be created with AI from Synthesia software’s catalog of over one hundred multiracial faces.
Victor Ruiz, the founder of SILIKN, a Mexico-based cybersecurity center, conversed with Diálogo on April 10 regarding the organization.
Victor Ruiz says:
“Regimes like Venezuela or China create fake avatars, photographs, and videos with a political purpose, distorting reality,”
“This way they retain power over people by making them distrustful of people, institutions, or even nations that might represent competition to the regime.”
For just around thirty dollars a month, Synthesia allows users to create scripts in more than 100 languages and sync them with the mouth movements of avatars. Users need no prior video-making expertise to use the software, which even comes with editing tools like images, soundtracks, and videos.
Synthesia prohibits creating videos that are religious, political, sexual, discriminatory, hate speech, or blasphemous on their website. However, they allow creating training, tutorial, and marketing videos on the same.
Stock avatars created in 2017 by the London-based company must not be used in user-generated TV content; this is strongly stressed.
After analyzing Daren and Noah’s videos, Héctor Mazarri – the Cazadores de Fake News collaborator – informed El País that the research had revealed some results.
Héctor Mazarri says:
“An organized attempt to push narratives favorable to the [Venezuelan] regime. While a trained user can detect the errors, this is done so that no one is exempt from not believing it,”
The videos of the ‘journalists,’ which were broadcast on Venezolana de Televisión and supported a one-sided view of Venezuela without any foundation, experienced a wide reach – with hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, going viral on TikTok.
Ruiz continues to say:
“We can all be victims of this abuse of power and disinformation,”
Caracas was viewed in a positive light by one of the House of News avatars. The avatar shared this outlook during the broadcast.
Ruiz went on to say:
“We wanted to know if Venezuela is as destroyed as the media has claimed for years,”
For this carnival season, travel agencies had seen a full booking indicating that Venezuelan beaches are crowded with tourists – a fact confirmed by El País when it presented images to back up its claim.
This video suggested that the reports by Venezuelan institutions and civil organizations, which assert that over 90 percent of the nation lives in poverty, may not be accurate. Venezuelan news site Efecto Cocuyo reported this.
Ruiz adds to say:
“Countries like Venezuela and China use AI and other new tools as weapons against people, against the citizenry, or another country,”
“This makes the people distrust, have uncertainty, and potentially rebel against the country itself.”
Wolf News, a newscast featuring an AI-generated avatar, is being used by Beijing to further the goals of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This chosen medium allows them to promote their interests efficiently.
At an international summit, a fake anchorwoman praised China’s involvement in geopolitical relations, according to The New York Times on February 9.
Graphika, a U.S. firm that studies disinformation, located a campaign promoting pro-China avatar video footage in 2022.
“The use of publicly available AI products will enable influence operation actors to create misleading content at greater scale and speed,”
Ruiz continues to say:
“It’s a complex issue, in the case of China there are barriers that prevent first-hand knowledge of what’s really going on,”
“Many more avatars are going to be created in authoritarian countries with political motives. We have to be very cautious with the information we receive.”
In March, People’s Daily – the CPP’s official media outlet – unveiled an AI news anchor named Ren Xiaorong. This virtual journalist can only respond from a script that follows the CCP’s editorial and the official line, as reported by the Argentine news site TN-Todo Noticias.
Ruiz went on to say:
“Organizations and governments must have codes of ethics for their operations. They have to work immediately to incorporate regulations for the use of AI,”
“These codes could somehow curb some of the misinformation.”
While AI presents exciting opportunities for innovation and progress, it’s important to be aware of its potential negative impacts and to take steps to prevent misuse. By working together, we can ensure that AI is used for good rather than as a tool for scams and deception.
Source: Diálogo Américas