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The Most Common Misuse of GenAI Is For Influencing Public Opinion: Google's DeepMind When it comes to goals and strategies of misuse, Opinion Manipulation ranked first with 27 per cent of all reported cases

By Paromita Gupta

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A recently published study 'Generative AI Misuse: A Taxonomy of Tactics and Insights from Real-World Data' by DeepMind, a division of Google's parent company Alphabet revealed that the most common misuse of artificial intelligence is the creation of deepfakes of politicians and celebrities, rather than AI-assisted cyber attacks.

The findings are based on the analysis of media reports of GenAI misuse between January 2023 and March 2024.

Source: Report

The study notes that the most reported cases of GenAI misuse involve actors exploiting the capabilities of these systems, rather than launching direct attacks at the models themselves. Nine out of ten cases fall into this category, DeepMind shared.

Manipulation of human likeness is the most prevalent cluster of tactics. These may include Impersonation; Sockpuppeting: Appropriated Likeness: and NCII. Scaling & Amplification and Falsification are also prominent tactics, accounting for 13 per cent and 12 per cent of reported cases respectively.

When it comes to goals and strategies of misuse, Opinion Manipulation ranked first with 27 per cent of all reported cases, followed by Monetization & Profit at 21 per cent and Scam & Fraud at 18 per cent.

In case of Opinion Manipulation, a range of tactics are deployed to distort the public's perception of political realities. These include impersonating public figures, using synthetic digital personas to simulate grassroots support for or against a cause ('astroturfing'), and creating falsified media.

Deemed as the 'election year, 2024 will see at least 64 countries head to the polls. The influence of deepfakes has been felt in countries like the USA, Nigeria, and Bangladesh, particularly during elections. In India, voters saw deep fakes of politicians and celebrities such as Aamir Khan, Ranveer Singh, and KT Rama Rao make rounds during the election phases. Other cases include Vladimir Putin declaring martial law after Ukrainian forces entered Russian territory;

ALSO READ: Election Essentials: 4 Websites to Identify Deepfakes and Fake News During India's 2024 Elections

The study found defamation to be another central strategy for opinion manipulation. According to the study, data involved depicted electoral candidates spouting abuse towards protected groups, party staffers, or their own constituents; while in other cases, actors shared AI-generated images of politicians appearing visibly aged to make them look unfit for leadership, and showing them in intimate settings with other public figures.

A common factor was the lack of appropriate disclosure around the use of GenAI tools in the context of campaigning risks misleading users and causing harm through deception.

The second most common goal behind GenAI misuse was to monetize products and services. These tactics include content scaling, amplification, and falsification.

Content farming saw users producing low-quality AI-generated articles, books, and product ads for placement on websites such as Amazon and Etsy to cut costs and capitalize on advertising revenue. The creation of non-consensual intimate imagery (NCII) constituted a significant portion. This tactic saw the creation and selling of sexually explicit videos of celebrities who did not consent to the production of that content.

The Scam & Fraud misuse saw the leveraging of real identities to deceive victims. This included celebrity scam ads and phishing scams. These not only infringe upon the targeted individual or organization's rights and reputation but also inflict a financial and psychological cost on victims.

"Addressing these challenges will require not only technical advancements, but a multi-faceted approach to interventions, involving collaboration between policymakers, researchers, industry leaders, and civil society. We highlight these implications in our discussion," said Nahema Marchal, lead author of the study and researcher at Google DeepMind on X.

Paromita Gupta

Entrepreneur Staff

Features Writer with Entrepreneur India

Covering news and trends in AI and Metaverse segments. An avid book reader running her personal blog on the side. You may reach me at 
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