Lawmakers worry face-swapping apps could fool, divide Americans

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON DC (NEXSTAR) — Many apps on your phone allow you to face-swap with another person for fun. But computer and artificial intelligence experts are warning that type of technology — in the wrong hands — could not only fool but also divide Americans. 

Nearly 30 years ago, the infamous R&B duo had to return their Grammy Awards after word got out they lip sync-ed to someone else’s singing. 

“Well, we’ve come a long way since Milli Vanilli, haven’t we?” U.S. Rep Rick Crawford of Arkansas said.

Today, lawmakers say a new high-tech way to put words in people’s mouths is no laughing matter. 

 “You can turn a world leader into a ventriloquist dummy,” U.S. Rep Adam Schiff of California said.  

California Congressman, Chairman Adam Schiff, and the other members of the House Intelligence Committee held one of the first congressional hearings specifically focused on the threat of what are called deep fakes – videos that artificial intelligence manipulate to distort reality. 

“Not only may fake videos be passed off as real, but real information can be passed off as fake,” Schiff explained.  

Experts told the committee deep fakes can be used for good, like parody or satire, but Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell asked about the bad – how the technology could spread disinformation ahead of the 2020 elections. 

 “What can campaigns, political parties, candidates do to prepare for the possibility of deep fake content?” Sewell said.  

 The panel told Sewell social media companies should be expected to prevent how deep fakes are shared, but it may take government action to create unified standards to ban and police the videos. 

“It’s not something that you have to be an AI expert to run. A novice can run these types of things,” said Dr. David Doermann/Professor, SUNY Empire Innovation and Director, Artificial Intelligence Institute, University at Buffalo.  

So, just like anyone can lip sync, soon anyone can create deep fakes.

 “Once someone views a deep fake or a fake video, the damage is largely done,” Schiff said.  

 Which is why many believe Congress needs to act before the technology destroys the public’s ability to believe what they see. 

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