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Artificial Intelligence In Urgent Need for Restriction and Moderation in the Face of Escalating Situations

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a double-edged sword, with its potential for both innovation and peril. Recent incidents show the pressing need for stringent regulations and effective moderation to curb the darker aspects of AI technology.

In 2023, the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reported a staggering 4,700 cases of child sexual exploitation content generated by AI. This alarming figure points to a growing crisis that experts believe will worsen with the advancement of AI technology. Child safety advocates express grave concerns about the risks posed by generative AI technology, which enables the creation of increasingly realistic exploitative content.

In 2022, NCMEC received reports of a staggering 88.3 million files related to child sexual exploitation. The severity of the issue is highlighted by John Shehan, senior vice president at NCMEC, who mentions receiving reports directly from generative AI companies, online platforms, and concerned members of the public. This revelation signals a multi-faceted challenge that requires urgent attention.

The Stanford Internet Observatory's June report adds another layer to the problem. Abusers can leverage generative AI to create disturbingly authentic images of real children, perpetuating harm and making identification challenging. As AI-generated content becomes more photo-realistic, distinguishing between real and AI-generated victims becomes a formidable task for authorities and online platforms alike.

The AI menace extends beyond visual content to the realm of audio. The ease with which AI can produce convincing audio recordings poses a serious threat. Instances of fake audio recordings targeting political figures, such as the robocall impersonating President Joe Biden, highlight the potential for misinformation and manipulation. Detection systems, though in existence, are inherently limited and struggle to keep up with rapidly evolving AI capabilities.

The inadequacy of current detection tools raises concerns about the effectiveness of regulatory measures. The Biden administration's executive order aims to address AI-related challenges, tasking the Commerce Department with providing guidance to AI companies. However, the regulation is yet to take effect, and the industry is already evolving beyond its scope, as evident from the proliferation of AI-based fake speech.

The impact of AI-generated content extends beyond exploitation to instances of violence and misinformation. The disturbing case of Justin Mohn, who posted a gruesome decapitation video on YouTube, sheds light on the platform's struggles to filter out such content effectively, as it’s been up for hours with more than 5,000 views, before it was taken down. Recent incidents involving the spread of AI-generated pornographic images of Taylor Swift shed light on the darker side of AI. These images, originating from online forums like 4chan, highlight the misuse of generative AI tools such as OpenAI's DALL-E. Users engaged in a game to bypass AI filters, creating explicit and often violent visuals of famous women. 

The insidious nature of AI-generated content goes beyond criminal acts, infiltrating historical narratives. The use of AI to create offensive images related to the Holocaust underscores the broader societal implications. Lord Pickles, the Government's envoy for post-Holocaust issues, emphasizes the risk of leaving historical narratives "up for grabs" due to AI's ability to distort reality.

As legislators grapple with longstanding issues of content moderation, child safety, and misinformation, the rapid evolution of AI introduces new challenges. The hearing on protecting children on social media reflects a bipartisan concern, yet the role of AI in exacerbating these challenges remains largely unexplored. The recent cases of explicit AI-generated images of celebrities, political misinformation, and crimes in child exploitation,  amplifies the urgency now more than ever for regulatory frameworks that can detect, moderate, and most importantly, take this down off social media and the web.

In conclusion, the multifaceted threats posed by AI-generated content demand immediate attention and comprehensive regulatory measures. The current landscape necessitates collaboration between technology companies, regulators, and the broader society to navigate the ethical and legal complexities of AI. The urgency lies not only in protecting individuals from exploitation but also in safeguarding historical truths and preserving the integrity of information in the age of AI.

  • April Surac, 10th grade, Instagram: april.surac

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