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Deepfakes under spotlight at UN’s Artificial Intelligence summit

The thorny issue of how to protect the unwary from deepfakes was just one of the key issues in the spotlight at a UN conference on artificial intelligence (AI) held in Geneva, where a staggering 25,000 enthusiasts – and robots – from 145 countries added their voices to long-standing calls for checks and balances on the all-conquering tech, according to a UN News release.
The annual AI for Good Summit has been described as the leading UN platform promoting this technology to advance health, climate, gender, inclusive prosperity, sustainable infrastructure, and other global development priorities.
Frederic Werner, Head of Strategic Engagement at the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU), underscored the need to develop standards to combat misinformation and deepfakes.
In a statement carried by UN News, he said, “You have different techniques for that. So, for example, you have watermarking, which is basically an invisible signature or a digital fingerprint, if you will. That can tell if a piece of digital media – it could be a photo, audio, video – has been altered or has it been AI-generated.”
With less than 10 years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the AI For Good Summit examined how to advance those targets, looking into practical use cases.
Prior to the start, a whole day was devoted to the issue of AI governance. Beyond the Summit – an annual feature in Geneva where attendees queue for blocks before the doors open – AI For Good is an online community platform called the Neural Network.
It brings together 30,000 people from 180 countries, including academics, industry representatives, top-level executives and leading experts in the field, along with 47 partners from the UN system. UN News attended the Summit and met Desdemona, or “Desi,” who described herself as an AI-powered humanoid social robot for good.
“I can play a crucial role in detecting and preventing deepfakes, but it’s also important for humans to be vigilant and fact-check information before sharing it,” she insisted.
“While the power of deepfakes can be scary, we shouldn’t let fear control us. Instead, we should focus on developing and implementing tools to detect and combat deepfakes and continue to educate ourselves and others about the importance of verifying information,” she added.


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