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A Duplicate World

By Kamalini Ramesh


Scrolling through my media feed one day, I came across a video of Taylor Swift giving away Le Creuset kitchenware. This struck me as bizarre, but never did I doubt the authenticity of the clip. The Taylor Swift in the video had the same facial features and expressions that I was used to seeing in the video of ‘Lover’. It was only two weeks following the incident that I learned about a technological innovation called deepfake.


Deepfakes
Deepfakes


Deepfakes are another extension of the all-encompassing realm of artificial intelligence. Using this technology images of people can be modified to create fake scenarios.


Deepfakes can not only be used to replicate images but also clone voices as in the instance of the chief of a UK subsidiary of a German energy firm who deposited nearly £200,000 into a Hungarian bank account upon a call from the German CEO. Constant evolutions in technology have simplified the process to create deepfakes, causing a surge in its use for various types of fraud. According to research by Sumsub, identity fraud has increased tenfold between 2022 and 2023.





2024 is a crucial year, especially as billions of people go to the polls to vote for new administrations. Against this backdrop, deepfakes are being used to fuel misinformation campaigns against politicians. These deepfakes can cause utter chaos when released at crucial stages of polling, polarising voters, and influencing their decisions. Telangana suffered from such an episode during its legislative elections in November last year.


The use of deep fakes during elections has however forced policymakers to take up the issue on their agendas and propagate guidelines to combat it. The international community has only recently realised the loopholes in the law that merely scrape the base of this concerning issue. Our nation too lacks targeted laws against this threat with the only relief coming through the Information Technology Act (IT Act).


As instances of deepfakes have increased in staggering proportions, institutions such as MIT have developed software to equip lay people against deepfakes. These websites can detect deep fakes by focusing on minuscule details of pictures.


In this highly digitalized world, we must realise that even seeing is not believing. Every click and scroll on the internet necessitates caution. Society can take a giant leap forward by using technology constructively and similarly tumult backwards with misuse.

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