Computers can now imitate human writing. Is it the start of a fake news avalanche?
Fake news may be the issue of the day, but what about “deepfake” news – that is, articles written by an artificial intelligence (AI) machine only pretending to be human? OpenAI, a company backed by several Silicon Valley heavyweights, claims it has developed a software that can mimic human writing so convincingly that those who invented it are too scared to divulge the full details. After being fed an initial sentence or question to start the ball rolling, the AI program GPT2 generates text in either fiction or non-fiction genres, matching the style of the initial human-input prompt.
“…it’s possible to generate malicious-esque content quite easily.”
“Deepfakes” are phony content created by “deep learning” (artificial intelligence) computers. This is a quickly developing field, but the researchers behind GTP2 have refused to release the full version of the product, due to concerns about it “being used to generate deceptive, biased, or abusive language at scale.” In other words, fake news and objectionable material can now be composed at speeds beyond the capabilities of human writers and sent out to spam the world.
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Previous attempts at such technology stumbled when the bots were unable to “remember” details of the story and context; the GPT2 program, however, can compose a narrative without losing track of these elements. After receiving one or two lines as a prompt, the technology went on to write convincing fake news stories about nuclear material being stolen in Cincinnati, scientists discovering a unicorn (albeit one with four horns), performer Miley Cyrus being caught shoplifting, as well as Lord of the Rings fan fiction and an essay on why the American Civil War occurred – of which the first paragraph reads:
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