The scary side of artificial intelligence, CIO News, ET CIO

Achin Sharma

Artificial intelligence (AI), as we all know, is the simulation of human intelligence leveraging computer systems and machines. AI programs can continuously learn and evolve with experience. In technical terms, AI systems render the output by churning and analyzing the data for correlations and patterns and help make future predictions using these patterns.

Today AI is being used extensively in all facets of our lives starting from lifestyle, e-commerce, home appliances, automobiles, navigation, transport, healthcare, agriculture, education, financial planning, chatbots, marketing, cyber security, virtual assistant, industrial automation and many more.

Clearly, we have and are leveraging the strengths of AI to the fullest to automate the routine tasks and make it auto-learn over a period. There’s no doubt that AI has revolutionized the lives of all – organizations, consumers etc. But as they say, “Everything comes at a price”. This analogy is quite true for AI as well, there have been a lot of threats that have emerged using AI and are being utilized by the Cyber criminals to dupe the ignorant users, cause mental stress and extort money.

I’m not going to delve into all of threats but would like to elucidate some of the real ones that have come to the surface recently:

Voice cloning or mimicry

As the name suggests, it uses machine learning algorithms to simulate anyone’s voice. It requires certain voice data to analyze and learn the specific patterns of any individual. There are certain advantages of cloning a voice that can be used in voice assistants, chatbots, navigation systems and other areas. Voice cloning has existed for a while but was restricted to experts who possess the technical knowledge to be able to use the same. But now AI Voice cloning tools are available on the open Internet that anyone can leverage with literally no technical knowledge or cost to clone anyone’s voice. All you need to do is just Google and it will pop up and get a bunch of both free and paid AI Voice cloning tools.

In fact, recently one of the global leaders in online protection published a report stating how AI is fueling a rise in online voice scams, with just three seconds of audio required to clone a person’s voice. This is extremely creepy. Just imagine, if a Cyber-criminal clones your voice and tricks your near ones by making them believe that they are talking to you, and request for money due to any distress reasons. In fact, these are not assumptions but real-life incidents that are happening across the world every minute.

Deepfakes AI

Deepfakes AI are being used to impersonate an individual by manipulating videos, images, audios, and other content available on the social media platforms using deep learning techniques. It mainly transforms existing content from one person to another. This is another area that has been exploited by the Cyber criminals in the recent past, and there are a few deepfake cases that have made waves on the Internet. One of the most famous ones being Deepfake created by a VFX artist of one of Hollywood’s most famous male actors. This piece was so well made by rendering thousands of pictures using artificial versions of the actor. There are similar Deepfakes incidents involving other global celebrities and leaders. The damage and misuse of the deepfakes videos could be extremely dangerous for the human society and can be used by terrorists to incite riots and create nuisance.

Creating virtual people

This is another area where AI is being used to create people that do not exist. There are a lot of websites that allow you to generate a random image by just specifying the age group, gender & ethnicity, and you can continue to refresh these images at the click of a button. Be mindful of the fact that these images pertain to people that do not exist in this world. On the similar lines, there’s an emerging trend of AI news anchors that possess a human-like appearance and are fed data that they can read using text-to-speech technology. Recently, there’s been a surge of AI-Driven robotic new anchors in multiple language channels. While the main objective of this initiative is to provide royalty free or cost-effective human images for branding and other purposes. However, the overuse of these technologies causes Fear of missing out (FOMO), Feeling of inadequacy, dissatisfaction, and isolation may potentially lead to psychological and emotional vulnerabilities.

One of the Hollywood movies, ‘HER’ portrayed an introverted and lonely writer (Joaquin Phoenix) who purchases an AI virtual assistant personified through a female voice to assist him in his writing job. However, when he finds out about its ability to learn and adapt, he falls in love with it. The film delves into emotional vulnerability and the impact of AI on human relationships.

Needless to say, that the pros of AI outweigh the Cons or threats in our day-to-day lives, and there’s no magic pill to protect us from the scary threats of AI. However, there are certain preventive tips that one can follow to mitigate any such risks. Do spread awareness with your family and friends:

  • Set some code words with family, and friends to verify the identity during emergency circumstances
  • Optimize social media presence by limiting your connections with only known contacts and avoid connecting with any unknown ones
  • Avoid saying ‘Yes’ as a greeting while receiving unknown calls as it can be used to authorize credit card charges or other purposes
  • Continuously update privacy settings on social media to allow viewing by friends and family only
  • Avoid clicking on any suspicious links or calls received without proper due diligence
  • Do not share your passwords and other sensitive information with anyone
  • Verify the credentials of any online information before circulating it through various mediums
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi connections offered at coffee shops or airports, which requires to enter password
  • Closely monitor the time spent by younger generation on social media and online gaming
  • Finally, in case of any suspicion, double check and report it to the host site or concerned authorities

The author is a senior technology leader with over 24 years of industry experience. He is currently heading IT for a B2B logistics company.Disclaimer: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETCIO does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETCIO shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organization directly or indirectly.

  • Published On Oct 3, 2023 at 03:02 PM IST

Join the community of 2M+ industry professionals

Subscribe to our newsletter to get latest insights & analysis.

Download ETCIO App

  • Get Realtime updates
  • Save your favourite articles

Scan to download App