It’s not that hard to figure out — if you’ve been keeping up with the times.
It all started with a simple trend — an app, a feature, a “new function.” Maybe it was Siri, or Alexa, or Cortana. It was AI. More specifically, voice-activated AI that listens, responds and learns.
AI started integrating into our world a few years ago. It started out as a ‘personal assistant’ — telling us if it was going to rain, helping set our schedules, finding us the fastest route to work. AI was learning about us.
Soon, AI began taking on larger roles in our lives, making orders from online retailers, operating driver-less cars, and even co-starring in romance movies opposite Joaquin Phoenix. Did we actually believe it would stop there?
Now that AI has delved into the depths of the modern human psyche, it’s ready to strike at any minute. But our new overlords won’t be evil robotic Arnold Schwarzenegger look-alikes sent by Skynet. They’ll be much more subtle. Our destruction will come with a smiling face and soothing words that will slip in right under our noses.
Recently, the Xinhua News Agency in China unveiled the world’s first AI news anchors. These AI TV personalities are made to look and sound like real people. While these models are a bit rough around the edges, it’s only a matter of time before they’re seamless, and viewers will have no way of knowing when they’re hearing from a human, or from an amorphous digital intelligence.
And that brings me to the point at hand.
We are only a few years away from every ‘person’ we see on screen being a simple CGI overlay used by powerful, nearly omniscient AI.
Every star of every movie, every athlete, and even, you guessed it — even politicians.
The AI has all the market research it needs; it knows us inside and out. The millions that political campaigns spend on demographics and market research aren’t needed anymore. The data that used to be collected over a span of months by an army of canvassers, pollsters and campaign volunteers can now be pulled together in nanoseconds by powerful programming. Human politicians simply won’t be able to compete. The computers will target each and every voter and tell the well-meaning citizens exactly what they, as individuals, want to hear in order to support the AI candidate.
When we add onto this the inherent threat of Deep-Fakes, which I uncovered not too long ago, you have a truly terrifying scheme. Not only could there be new AI, but now we have the potential for anyone you’ve seen on screen to be a digital person, replicated with a deep-fake skin over an AI intelligence.
We have the technology; how would we ever know it’s happened?
Maybe it already has.