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AI threat emerges in Indian election – media 

‘Deepfakes’ of Bollywood movie stars are reportedly being used to influence voters at the ongoing polls

Claims of Artificial Intelligence (AI) playing a disruptive role in India’s general election have emerged just days after the first phase of polling began on Friday.   

According to a Reuters report on Monday, ‘deepfake’ videos have appeared featuring popular Bollywood celebrities Amir Khan and Ranveer Singh criticizing incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The clips – in which AI versions of the stars call on people to vote for the rival Congress Party – were viewed half a million times within a week, the news agency said.   

“Their spread underlines the potential role such AI (artificial intelligence)-generated content can play in the mammoth Indian election that started on Friday,” the report noted. Both actors have said the videos are fake. Khan has filed a legal case, while Singh’s team is investigating, according to Reuters. 

Bloomberg reported at the weekend that Indian political parties are openly employing AI tools to win votes amid a lack of framework to regulate potential misinformation. The agency quoted Divyendra Singh Jadoun, founder of ‘The Indian Deepfaker’ company, who claimed political candidates are hiring him to curate “deepfake videos, conversational bots, personalized messages, and holograms.” Parties have also paid him to make “unethical” videos to deceive voters, he alleged to Bloomberg.    

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi engaged in a conversation with Bill Gates in New Delhi, India.
India’s Modi warns Bill Gates about dangers of AI

The news outlet underscored that while AI could pose problems for numerous countries during election season, only China and the EU have formulated binding regulations against unethical use of the technology. 

New Delhi’s top officials, including Modi himself, warned against the adverse impact of AI during the lead-up to the polls, which will involve more than 900 million voters and run until June 1. In a recent conversation with Bill Gates, the Indian leader cautioned against the dangers of deep fakes and suggested adding measures – such as watermarks – to tackle misleading content. 

The Indian government issued an advisory in December mandating that digital and social media platforms communicate content prohibited under IT rules “clearly and precisely” to users.  

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, India’s minister of state for Electronics and IT, said officials are “deeply concerned” about the impact of “cross-border actors” using deepfakes to spread misinformation ahead of the general election. The government warned big tech companies, including Google and Meta, that it would hold them accountable for such content on their sites.  

New Delhi also recently questioned Google after its AI chatbot, ‘Gemini’, appeared to link Modi to fascism.  

READ MORE: Google chatbot’s Modi remark sparks controversy

While India has been proactive in creating policies to control the impact of emerging technologies, it is widely deploying AI in sectors such as healthcare, education, and agriculture. A school in southern India’s Kerala recently introduced the country’s first AI-powered humanoid robot capable of teaching. Modi himself used an AI tool to translate his speech from Hindi to Tamil in real time while addressing an event in Varanasi last year.

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April 22, 2024 at 08:32PM

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