At his end-of-year news event, Russian President Vladimir Putin got a bit mixed up when he ran into a deepfake that looked just like him. This took place while he was taking questions from people in Russia. The session was a mix-up of his usual call-in event and the end-of-year press briefing.
AI-Generated Putin Lookalike Poses Questions
An individual, claiming to be a student from St Petersburg State University, appeared on the screen as an AI deepfake of Putin himself. The AI questioner asked, “Mr. President, good afternoon, I am a student studying at St Petersburg Institute. Do you have a lot of twins? And another point, what is your attitude towards the dangers with neural networks and artificial intelligence?” The question led to laughter among the audience and prompted a rare moment of hesitation from the Russian leader.
Putin’s Response to the Deepfake
Responding to the AI-generated doppelgänger, Putin stated, “I see you may resemble me and speak with my voice. But I have thought about it and decided that only one person must be like me and speak with my voice, and that will be me.” He humorously added, “That is my first double, by the way.” This interaction highlighted the growing presence and influence of artificial intelligence in modern media and politics.
Speculations on Putin’s Use of Body Doubles
The Kremlin has consistently denied rumors that Putin uses body doubles for public appearances or to cover alleged health issues. However, Ukrainian military intelligence, Western media, and some independent Russian outlets have claimed several Putin stand-ins have undergone extensive training and plastic surgery to mimic him accurately. Japanese researchers, after analyzing Putin’s speeches through AI, concluded that he might have at least two doppelgangers.
The Global Race for AI Dominance
Putin, like other global leaders, is striving to position Russia at the forefront of AI technology. This effort comes at a time when major powers like the U.S., China, and the European Union are also racing to dominate in this field. The advancement of AI technologies, especially those producing nearly indistinguishable avatars from real humans, raises significant concerns about the spread of misinformation and the ethical implications of AI.
Addressing the AI Challenge
Another AI-related question during the conference came from an 8-year-old girl, who inquired if AI would “supercede” her and her family. Putin assured that it wouldn’t, but emphasized that AI development is “impossible to prevent.” He advocated for global cooperation to regulate AI, drawing parallels to the international response to nuclear weapons.
Pope Francis Calls for AI Regulation
In a related development, Pope Francis, who has criticized Putin’s war in Ukraine, called for a global treaty to regulate AI and promote peace. He expressed concerns over the use of AI in warfare and the potential emergence of a “technological dictatorship.”
Putin’s Year-End Press Conferences
Traditionally, Putin holds two year-end press conferences: one for citizens’ questions and another with the press. Last year’s events were canceled amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but both returned this year. The selection process for citizens to ask questions remains unclear, but it is undoubtedly a carefully choreographed affair.
Emerging Concerns Around AI Deepfakes
The use of AI-generated deepfakes, like the one experienced by Putin, has sparked widespread concern. These deepfakes use AI technology to create highly realistic images, sounds, or videos of real people. While the technology has legitimate uses, it also poses significant risks, especially in spreading false information and manipulating public perception. As these AI creations become increasingly difficult to distinguish from real footage, the potential for their misuse in political and social contexts grows.
The AI-generated deepfake of President Putin during the Q&A session underscores the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence and its increasing impact on global affairs. It also highlights the need for careful regulation and ethical considerations in the development and use of such technologies. To learn more, visit this informative article.