HomeEthics & SocietyAI deep fakes ignite fierce debate ahead of the 2024 India election

AI deep fakes ignite fierce debate ahead of the 2024 India election

India’s 2024 general election, the most important democratic exercise on this planet with over 960 million eligible voters, is being transformed by the rise of AI intelligence and hyper-realistic deep fake content. 

With this, a brand new generation of tech-savvy political operatives is leveraging AI to create synthetic media with political and industrial intent. 

One of probably the most outstanding figures in India’s emerging ‘deep fake industry’ is Divyendra Singh Jadoun, a 31-year-old self-styled “Indian Deep faker” who has quickly develop into a go-to provider for political campaigns.

What began as a solo operation making Bollywood spoofs has evolved right into a full-fledged synthetic media studio. 

“He’s since expanded due to all the work that’s coming to him,” Bangalore-based reporter Saritha Rai tells Bloomberg

“The first time I spoke to him, he said he had a few employees, and that was a number of months ago. Then, he told me he has five other employees who help them make these videos.”

Using AI models trained on hours of authentic footage, Jadoun and his team generate uncannily realistic videos of politicians like Prime Minister Narendra Modi appearing to deal with voters by name. 

“The level of hyper-personalization that is feasible with generative AI…You can just train the model to say the major message after which feed it with hundreds and hundreds of names. And it is going to immediately reproduce that very same video and sync it perfectly with Narendra Modi calling out all and sundry by name,” explains Rai.

AI election campaigns mimic the intimacy of in-person interactions at an almost infinite scale and reasonably priced cost. 

Rai further notes, “a number of the campaigning goes to be hyper personalized to the electors…a number of it’ll reach them via their phones. And a number of it is going to be AI generated material.”

Deep fakes are rife in India ahead of the election

Compounding the difficulty in India, Rai explains how tens of millions of persons are introduced to technology for the primary time through reasonably priced smartphones. 

A digitally inexperienced population is much more liable to deceptive content.

The same may also be said of older people, who, again, aren’t so exposed to the foolery of web content.

But even amongst those that rate themselves as effective at identifying AI fakes, studies reveal that even after we know media is fake, it could affect our memory and decision-making. 

In addition to deep fakes designed to color public figures in a positive light, instances of malicious political deep fakes are also becoming more common in India. 

For example, in November, fact-checker Muralikrishnan Chinnadurai spotted a livestream purporting to point out Duwaraka, the long-dead daughter of a Tamil militant leader, giving a fiery political speech. 

Chinnadurai identified glitches, revealing it to be an AI-generated avatar. “This is an emotive issue within the state [Tamil Nadu] and with elections across the corner, the misinformation could quickly spread,” he told the BBC.

Last month, deep fake videos of Bollywood stars Ranveer Singh and Aamir Khan seemingly endorsing the opposition Congress party went viral, prompting police complaints from the actors. 

On April twenty ninth, Prime Minister Modi himself warned about deep fakes getting used to doctor speeches by ruling party leaders. 

The next day, two opposition party employees were arrested for a forged video of Home Minister Amit Shah. The opposing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has faced similar accusations from rivals.

So far, India’s government has offered scant oversight, largely outsourcing content moderation to social media platforms. “India has no regulation in any respect, with regards to AI,” states Rai. 

The government recently began requiring prior approval before launching “unreliable” AI tools and warned against outputs that would undermine elections, but comprehensive rules are lacking. The same could be said for much of the world. 

As the previous election commissioner, SY Qureshi aptly warns, “Rumours have at all times been a component of electioneering. [But] within the age of social media, it could spread like wildfire…It can actually set the country on fire.”


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