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UK Cyber Week 2024

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Gaslit Generation: The implications of AI for truth, democracy and society

17 Apr 2024
3. IT savvy

This session will explore the rapidly approaching future of AI-powered disinformation. We have awoken in the world of Generative Adversarial Networks, Large Language Models and scientific crises of confidence, almost as if we have no idea how we got here, or what the implications may be. The greatest challenge that we will face over the next decade is the ability to tell fact from fiction, reality from fantasy and information from disinformation. Words and the ways they are delivered could be our downfall as easily as our saviour.

2024 sees major elections in the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, the EU Parliament, 16 African nations, India, and of course Taiwan among many others (not to mention the Paris Olympic Games). It is set to be the biggest election year in history, with more than 4 billion people being asked to cast their votes, and AI-driven disinformation campaigns will be pervasive. Threat actors will exploit these events to manipulate public opinion on a global scale, posing significant challenges to election integrity and global stability.

Disinformation has long played a significant role in international and domestic politics, but the mainstreaming of LLM implementations, coupled with voice and video synthesis heralds a new era. Recent innovations in AI have been particularly in the areas of GAN and NLP/NLG. AI can now synthesise Faces, Voices, moving images and Text. Through these, it can also synthesise knowledge and even character traits and even create physical objects. All of this technology, aside from its positive potential hugely benefits the propagandist and the conspiracy theorist. At its most benign it fuels doubt and destroys credibility and at its worst creates, sustains and amplifies an entirely false image of reality. An image with an explicitly malicious agenda.

Powered by the speed and scale of the internet and leveraging digital marketing techniques, disinformation operations have now weaponized social media platforms and fractured the information environment to sow discord and undermine trust. It is difficult to measure the entire spread and impact but it is no secret that we live in an increasingly fractured and polarised world, where acceptance of the existence of “alternative facts” is now mainstream.

This session will examine the current state of disinformation operations and how their capabilities and reach will be significantly enhanced and accelerated through the application of Artificial Intelligence. We will also present strategies for individuals, organisations and governments to begin to combat this new frontier.

Rik Ferguson, Vice President Security Intelligence - Forescout

 Technical Rating