Lawmakers hold briefing to consider potential impact of deepfakes
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Lawmakers hold briefing to consider potential impact of deepfakes

Massachusetts lawmakers invited a representative from Google, along with legal and political experts, to the State House for a briefing about the potential impacts of artificial intelligence and deepfake technology. The briefing was planned as an opportunity to demonstrate the technology, consider potential impacts and review what other states may be doing in response. Deepfakes are audio or video clips that are digitally manipulated or manufactured. During the New Hampshire Primary, for example, thousands of voters received calls that reproduced the sound of President Joe Biden’s voice. Wednesday’s briefing was organized by State Sen. Barry Finegold, chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, who said the briefing was planned as an opportunity for lawmakers and staff to learn about deepfake technology. Finegold is sponsoring a bill that would allow for fines against creators of deepfake videos used in campaigns. It would ban knowingly distributing deepfakes of a candidate or political party without a disclaimer within 90 days of an election and would allow candidates to seek fines of up to $10,000 against violators. The proposal would not apply to news organizations as long as they acknowledge the content is in question and the measure would not apply to content spoofing celebrities or the average person.”When it came to social media, we were all behind,” Finegold said. “We didn’t put enough guardrails out there and this time around, we do not want to miss the boat.””It’s really important that government steps in to make sure that, especially with new technology and AI, that we’re finding appropriate and reasonable ways to regulate,” said Geoff Foster, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts.”Making sure that consumers are educated on the content that they are interacting with online: How do I spot something that doesn’t look right? How do I report it? Those are the kinds of tools we want to make available,” said Joe Dooley, senior policy manager for Google.In lieu of federal action, Finegold said states like Massachusetts need to step up. “People in the Commonwealth, whether they’re Democrats (or) Republicans, they need to be protected. Google said election advertisers will be required to disclose when they use certain AI features and watermark AI-generated content.

Massachusetts lawmakers invited a representative from Google, along with legal and political experts, to the State House for a briefing about the potential impacts of artificial intelligence and deepfake technology.

The briefing was planned as an opportunity to demonstrate the technology, consider potential impacts and review what other states may be doing in response.

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Deepfakes are audio or video clips that are digitally manipulated or manufactured. During the New Hampshire Primary, for example, thousands of voters received calls that reproduced the sound of President Joe Biden’s voice.

Wednesday’s briefing was organized by State Sen. Barry Finegold, chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, who said the briefing was planned as an opportunity for lawmakers and staff to learn about deepfake technology.

Finegold is sponsoring a bill that would allow for fines against creators of deepfake videos used in campaigns. It would ban knowingly distributing deepfakes of a candidate or political party without a disclaimer within 90 days of an election and would allow candidates to seek fines of up to $10,000 against violators.

The proposal would not apply to news organizations as long as they acknowledge the content is in question and the measure would not apply to content spoofing celebrities or the average person.

“When it came to social media, we were all behind,” Finegold said. “We didn’t put enough guardrails out there and this time around, we do not want to miss the boat.”

“It’s really important that government steps in to make sure that, especially with new technology and AI, that we’re finding appropriate and reasonable ways to regulate,” said Geoff Foster, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts.

“Making sure that consumers are educated on the content that they are interacting with online: How do I spot something that doesn’t look right? How do I report it? Those are the kinds of tools we want to make available,” said Joe Dooley, senior policy manager for Google.

In lieu of federal action, Finegold said states like Massachusetts need to step up.

“People in the Commonwealth, whether they’re Democrats (or) Republicans, they need to be protected.

Google said election advertisers will be required to disclose when they use certain AI features and watermark AI-generated content.

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