Brazil is trying to stop AI deepfakes as key elections loom.

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Sao Paulo: AI-generated videos and images used for political disinformation are the bane of a busy global election year, and Brazil is scrambling to regulate the technology ahead of municipal elections.

In a country of 203 million people with more phones than people, Brazilian authorities last week banned the use of deepfake technology and set guidelines for the use of AI for electoral purposes. .

“Video montages can be used to manipulate public opinion, defame individuals, or interfere with the democratic process,” Ana Carolina da Hora, a computer specialist at PUC Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro, told AFP. “

Turbocharged by the 2022 launch of ChatGPT, the rapid growth of AI has shaken the online landscape, spreading fear and dread over the future of the technology.

In a video making the rounds on social media in Brazil, the country’s biggest pop star Anita and soccer icon Neymar are promoting an online gambling scheme, or rather realistic deepfakes of celebrities. are

But in a country plagued by political misinformation, authorities have been particularly alarmed by cases such as a mayor whose voice was cloned to create an audio file shared on social media in which he Insults the teachers in the municipality.

Similar cases are being investigated in two other states.

The Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) has decided to take action. Last week, the use of deepfake technology in the October municipal election campaign was officially banned.

As with any other type of use of artificial intelligence for electoral purposes, there must be a clearly identifiable notice to the public.

Candidates caught using deepfake technology in an election campaign can be barred from running or have their mandate revoked if elected.

These are “some of the most advanced standards in the world for combating disinformation, fake news and the illegal use of artificial intelligence,” TSE president Alexandre de Maures said.

He warned that deepfake technology could “change the outcome of elections.”

In Brazil, former President Jair Bolsonaro was banned from holding office until 2030 on charges of abuse of power and media abuse, after he claimed Brazil’s electoral system was not secure.

“The reality is that humanity is falling prey to algorithms… and being manipulated by artificial intelligence in a way that has never been seen in history,” President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told Red TV last week. He said while giving an interview to the channel. .

Lula beat Bolsonaro by a razor-thin margin in a 2022 election that bitterly divided the nation, and October’s municipal elections will be a key litmus test of his popularity.

Deepfake technology is also troubling experts in the United States, where opponents of President Joe Biden recently issued an AI-generated call using a voice similar to his voice, urging people not to vote in the primaries. Emphasized.

The nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hat (CCDH) warned Wednesday that several generative AI tools allow the creation of deceptive images related to political candidates and voting.

Twenty digital companies including Meta, Microsoft, Google, OpenAI, TikTok and X joined last month in a pledge to fight AI content designed to mislead voters.

They promised to use technologies to counter potentially harmful AI content, such as watermarks invisible to the human eye but detectable by a machine.

In Brazil, Congress joined the debate, and Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco introduced a bill to regulate the use of artificial intelligence in all aspects of life that he hopes will be passed in April.

“There is no single solution to managing artificial intelligence,” said Bruno Bioni, director of Data Privacy Brazil, a data protection and digital rights organization, who stressed that AI could affect sectors ranging from telecommunications to health. does.

He also highlighted the risk of discrimination linked to AI facial recognition in a country where more than half of the population is black or of mixed race. – AFP

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