Deepfake Politicians May Have a Big Influence on India’s Elections

An AI-generated version of India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, dancing to the song Gangnam Style

Jeremy Hsu in New Scientist: Artificial intelligence is enabling India’s politicians to be everywhere at once in the world’s largest election by cloning their voices and digital likenesses. Even dead public figures, such as politician and actress Jayaram Jayalalithaa, are getting digitally resurrected to canvass support in what is shaping up to be the biggest test yet of democratic elections in the age of AI-generated deepfakes.

India’s nearly 970 million eligible voters started going to the polls on 19 April in a multi-phase process lasting until 1 June that will select the next government and prime minister. It has meant booming business for Divyendra Singh Jadoun, whose company The Indian Deepfaker typically uses AI techniques to create special effects for ad campaigns and Netflix productions.

His firm is handling more than a dozen election-related projects, including creating holographic avatars of politicians, using audio cloning and video deepfakes to enable personalized messaging en masse, and deploying a conversational AI agent that identifies itself as AI, but speaks in the voice of a political candidate during calls with voters.

“For the first time, it’s going to be happening on a large scale,” says Jadoun. “There are some political parties that want to try out everything, and even we don’t know what impact it will have.”

Much has changed since India’s current prime minister, Narendra Modi, used 3D hologram technology to broadcast prerecorded speeches at multiple campaign rallies around India in 2014. Now, his AI-generated avatar speaks to voters by name in WhatsApp videos as the use of AI technology in Indian politics has ballooned.

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