Artificial Intelligence as a tool for oppression and deception

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Annual reporting by the non-profit organization Freedom House shows that internet freedom has been declining globally for 13 consecutive years. What’s new about the report’s latest installment, “The Repressive Power of Artificial Intelligence,” is in its title. AI has been used by governments all over the world to restrict freedom of speech and abuse opposition.

This oppression is both direct and indirect. Directly, AI models supercharge the detection and removal of prohibited speech online. Dissenting opinions cannot spread when they are shut off so quickly. AI-based facial recognition can also help identify protesters, making it unsafe for them to have any of their images shared on social media.

Indirectly, AI advances oppressive goals by spreading misinformation. Two factors play an important role here. First, chatbots and other AI-based tools enable automation that cost-effectively distributes large volumes of false information across platforms. Secondly, AI tools can generate fake images, videos, and audio content that distort reality. These fabrications promote general distrust in publicly available information even when identified as fake. Distrust, in turn, makes people incapable of coordinated action.

Read the full report on Freedom on the Net 2023

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