'New Crisis Is Emerging': PM Modi Raises Alarm on AI-Generated Deepfakes

PM Modi also revealed that he had brought up the issue with the "ChatGPT folks."

Tech News
3 min read

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed alarm over the threats posed by artificial intelligence (AI), specifically deepfakes.

Tell me more: "A new crisis is emerging due to deepfakes produced through AI," said PM Modi, while addressing a gathering at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on Friday, 17 November.

  • There is a very big section of Indian society that does not have a parallel verification system to detect deepfakes, Modi added.

  • He further called on the media to help spread awareness about the dangers of deepfakes.

"We need to educate people about artificial intelligence and deepfakes, how it works, what it can do, what all challenges it can bring and whatever can be made out of it," PM Modi said.

Of note: Modi also revealed that he himself had been deepfaked recently. "I even saw a (deepfake) video of me singing garba. And they have made it so well," exclaimed the prime minister.

Why it matters: Modi's remarks come after scarily accurate deepfakes of Indian celebrities recently grabbed headlines and spurred calls for stronger AI regulations.

  1. What Is a Deepfake?

    According to University of Virginia, a deepfake is an artificial image or a series of images (i.e. a video), that is generated by a specific kind of machine learning termed as "deep learning."


Long story short: A few weeks ago, an AI-generated deepfake video of actor Rashmika Mandanna went viral online.

  • The video was created by morphing Mandanna's face onto the body of Zara Patel, a British social media influencer.

  • Several prominent Bollywood figures like Amitabh Bachchan came out in support of Mandanna and called for legal action against the creators of the viral deepfake.

In response: The Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued an advisory for social media platforms to take down misleading content such as AI-generated deepfakes within 24 hours.

“Under the IT rules notified in April, 2023, it is a legal obligation for platforms to: ensure no misinformation is posted by any user AND, ensure that when reported by any user or govt, misinformation is removed in 36 hrs. If platforms do not comply with this, rule 7 will apply and platforms can be taken to court by aggrieved persons under provisions of IPC [Indian Penal Code]," Union Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar had said.

Word to the wise: On ways to combat the rise in deepfakes, Modi said on Friday that he had discussed the issue with the "ChatGPT folks" and had suggested adding labels to deepfakes – similar to anti-tobacco warnings.

  • They said that they are also very concerned about how to stop the misuse of AI, Modi continued.

For context: OpenAI boss Sam Altman had met PM Modi when the former was in the country in June this year.

  • "He [Modi] was so enthusiastic, really thoughtful about AI, and the benefits of it. We asked why India has embraced ChatGPT so much and so early. It’s really been fun for us to watch. He had great answers about that,” Altman had said.

  • Besides creating the popular large language model (LLM) ChatGPT, Altman's OpenAI also owns text-to-image AI generator DALL-E.

Meanwhile, former US President Barack Obama recently gave his two cents on how best to regulate AI.

"I don’t believe that we should try to put the genie back in the bottle and be anti-tech because of all the enormous potential. But I think we should put some guardrails around some risks that we can anticipate."
Former US President Barack Obama told The Verge

Interestingly, Obama was one of the first political leaders to have been deepfaked back in 2018.

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