Digging into deepfakes and the young voters who seem unbothered by it

by Vivian Diep in March 25th, 2022
create-a-person

Deepfakes show politics are a lot of razzle dazzle

Tue Mar 8

Want to appear more human? Try using a robot... At least, that’s what incoming South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeon did. Nicknamed “AI Yoon,” the artificial intelligence (AI) Yoon was crafted to present a “softer” version of the otherwise stern, conservative candidate. This type of AI generated content is called synthetic media, or more commonly a deepfake, and can be very convincing with enough data — in fact, comedians Key & Peele created a deepfake of Barack Obama in 2018 that went viral, alarming people with how convincing AI-generated video can be.

And Yoon's is one of the first uses of deepfake technology for a positive political outcome. One Indian politician created deepfakes that translated his own videos for broader reach. In contrast, recently a deekfake of Ukraine’s president telling his soldiers to lay down their arms and surrender during the Russian invasion made headline news, raising the alarm over deepfakes once again — however, this one was more obviously fake leading to a swift debunk and removal from Facebook and YouTube.

But Yoon’s team used deepfakes to specifically appeal to younger voters, who didn’t seem to mind even after they realized the content was an AI version. Writers used comedic and simplified scripts so that AI Yoon not only intrigued young voters — an important demographic of swing voters — but also could be understood by middle schoolers.

Critics of this strategy called it fraudulent and a threat to democracy. They believe presenting a computer-generated version of Yoon absent of his speaking or personality flaws is misleading voters even as the AI Yoon’s discussions of policy and position on issues is the same as the real Yoon’s. Nonetheless, Yoon will be taking office in May given his opponent conceded earlier.

The quick rise in abortion bills across the U.S.

Tue Mar 15

It takes a village and any who go against it will be sued — at least in Texas and now Idaho. Here’s what’s going on: Last year, Idaho signed a bill to restrict abortions that was ultimately challenged and delayed. Some were concerned that the bill was not constitutional and needed to see precedent elsewhere. Texas delivered with their “heartbeat bill,” which allows any private citizen to sue on behalf of an “unborn child.” As a refresher, that bill is the most severe anti-abortion bill in the country, and gives $10,000 plus coverage of legal fees to successful cases.

Now Idaho has passed their own heartbeat bill where any family member can sue the medical provider conducting the abortion for a $20,000 award. Of the many problems introduced here, one of the major ones is that the heartbeat is most often detected at six weeks, before most women are even aware they’re pregnant.

Unlike the Texas bill, the Idaho one allows exceptions in cases of rape or incest — if the victim provides proof of a filed police report. This introduces another barrier, especially with our previous coverage that shows 70% of sexual assaults going unreported. Sadly, Idaho isn’t the only state imitating Texas:

  • Missouri, Tennessee, and Oklahoma have introduced or passed similar legislation. This is particularly worrisome for those in Texas given that many traveled to Missouri and Oklahoma for their abortion procedures following the Texas ban.
  • Arizona, Florida, West Virginia, and others are targeting bills restricting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

On the other hand, Oregon has passed a bill to help fund abortions, including the travel and lodging expenses that come with it. The $15M fund comes following researchers finding a 234% increase in citizens traveling to Oregon from Idaho and other states restricting abortions.

Below the Fold Bytes

From Sustainability to Restoration

Bolstered by the hardships of pandemic lockdowns and outcry over equitable access to healthful green spaces, pioneering architects are building structures and landscapes that not only integrate nature but may even restore her. This means the local plant and animal life is minimally disturbed — if not recovered and cultivated — by these new projects. And the projects are highly individual with some sites partnering with farms and others that section off large sections of land as dedicated nature preserves. >> Read More

Children’s Cure for Malaria

While countries like the U.S. have approved a cure for malaria for older teens and adults, Australia is now the first to approve it for kids and teens. The cure, tafenoquine, has shown mild side effects and is 95% effective in preventing recurrence after four months, making this drug approval a significant step towards defeating malaria — especially since children are particularly vulnerable and may suffer fatal consequences from repeated relapses. The drug has been submitted for approval in nine other countries and the WHO. >> Read More

🎬 Action of the Week

Help protect women’s reproductive rights by visiting pro-choice state legislators and stressing the importance of voting to protect these rights. Write letters, send emails, or even call elected representatives when relevant legislation arises (before they vote) — it’s the most critical time to voice your opinions. And, stay informed and take action by joining the ACLU’s action updates list.

Resources

  • Wall Street Journal AI Yoon 17 days old | 11 minutes long
  • Bloomberg Barack Obama deepfake 4 years old | 3 minutes long
  • BBC Young S. Korean voters 17 days old | 10 minutes long
  • The Verge Indian politician’s deepfakes 1 year old | 3 minutes long
  • Newser Idaho’s abortion law 10 days old | 3 minutes long
  • New York Times Idaho following Texas 11 days old | 10 minutes long
  • Texas Tribune Texas heartbeat bill 9 months old | 14 minutes long
  • Politico 15-week abortion bans 1 month old | 11 minutes long
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Why is the AI version of him so shallow?

You said to make sure he doesn’t look deep.


Art Credit: ASCII Art Archive


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