By John Ensor •
Published: 20 Oct 2023 • 9:15
MI5 Chief, Ken McCallum.
ACCORDING to the head of one of the UK’s security services, videos that have been manipulated by artificial intelligence (AI), known as ‘deepfakes’, could disrupt the upcoming General Election.
Recently, Ken McCallum, MI5 chief, spoke about the fast-evolving technology. He highlighted how fake videos could mislead and influence the public, writes the Express.
Deepfakes manipulate images or sounds, making a person appear to say or do something that is manufactured. McCallum stressed its capability to stir confusion, dissension and chaos within societies. ‘The technology has now become significantly more sophisticated than was previously the case,’ he added.
This technological leap isn’t limited to enemy nations. Many might leverage it to sway public opinion. McCallum explained that while MI5 doesn’t own the main response, but if a threat arises from known nations, MI5 would act. One effective countermeasure is to identify and publicly label them as deepfakes.
There’s a risk in focusing too much on one threat type. Creative adversaries might opt for different tactics. McCallum said, ‘I wouldn’t want to make some sort of strong prediction that that will feature in the forthcoming election, but we would be not doing our jobs properly if we didn’t really think through the possibility.’
This was evidenced during the recent Labour party conference in Liverpool, Sir Keir Starmer was targeted in two deepfake videos. One falsely portrayed him berating party staff, the other criticising Liverpool.
Similarly, FBI Director Christopher Wray expressed concerns about the use of AI in information warfare. He commented, ‘Information warfare by foreign adversaries is not a new thing.’ But the advent of convincing deepfakes adds a fresh layer of threats. While past attempts at creating deepfakes were easily spotted, the technology is advancing rapidly.
At a significant summit in California’s Stanford University, intelligence leaders warned about AI’s darker side. They highlighted concerns about AI aiding terrorists in bomb-making.
Wray noted AI’s potential in amplifying terrorist propaganda, making it more accessible to global audiences. However, he also acknowledged AI’s potential benefits if used rightly.
The MI5 boss further highlighted AI’s double-edged nature. McCallum emphasised the importance of an upcoming global AI summit in the UK. He said, ‘It is high time that the nations of the world sat around a table to start talking about how we collectively get the most from AI while also managing the risks, because both are real.’
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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