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Deep fake bursts into the US primaries

Deep fake bursts into the US primaries

Biden's voice cloned and used to tell Democrats not to vote

ROME, 29 January 2024, 14:56

ANSA English Desk




(by Alessio Jacona*) New Hampshire, the third weekend in January.
    There are just a few hours to go before the primaries for the 2024 presidential elections, and in an unspecified number of homes (some say less than 5,000) the phone starts ringing. It sounds like a normal robocall, an automated call to transmit a recorded message, but instead it is a deepfake: in it, in fact, the cloned voice of US President Joe Biden can be heard urging Democratic voters not to go to the polls.
    "It's important that you save your vote for the November election….voting this Tuesday only enables the Republicans in their quest to elect Donald Trump again," says the incredibly presidential-like voice, adding: "Your vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday." Although the circulation of deepfakes during elections is now beginning to be an infamous problem, this is perhaps the first time someone has tried to simultaneously use voice cloning with AI along with the old - but precisely for this reason familiar and pervasive - technology of robocalls.
    The fraud was all the more credible for the fact that, as reported by NBC, the call ended by giving the phone number of Kathy Sullivan, former chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party and leader of a committee supporting President Biden's re-election, as the contact person to call to ask to be barred from future calls. This is also worrying because it appears to be primarily a test, a dress rehearsal in readiness for more sophisticated and potentially more effective disinformation campaigns in future.
    The incident in New Hampshire is causing a lot of concern both in the United States and in the rest of the world: as The Economist reminds us, in 2024 there will be elections in 76 countries and around 51% of the world's population will be called to the polls.
    Voting will take place in countries such as the United States and Russia, but also in Brazil, Mexico, Pakistan, Indonesia and in Europe, with 400 million citizens in 27 countries called to elect their representatives to the European parliament. It will be the 'biggest election year in history', and over it hangs the heavy sword of Damocles of deep fakes.
    Deep fakes that are now much easier to create thanks to the spread of services based on generative AI, and which can potentially be used anywhere to manipulate and deceive voters.
    *Journalist, innovation expert and editor of the ANSA.it Artificial Intelligence Observatory


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