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Protecting Yourself From Misuse of Artificial Intelligence

Posted - April 27, 2023

With the proliferation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications, like any other new technology, comes the people that will abuse it and victimize others. Recently we have been hearing horrible stories of peoples’ voices and images being used to stage fake kidnappings for ransom, or videos being created that give the appearance someone is promoting hate or some other heinous beliefs or propaganda. The question is, what can we do to protect ourselves and each other? This article offers thoughts on this and some practical tips you can implement immediately to create some protection for yourself. 

We Need a Multi-Faceted Approach

Protecting ourselves from the misuse of artificial intelligence (AI) requires a multi-faceted approach that involves ethical considerations, regulatory frameworks, responsible use by individuals and organizations, and specific practices we can implement immediately. 

On the broader front, we need to implement regulation and control at the developmental and deployment stages and make people and organizations pay a dear price for violating other peoples’ rights to freedom and safety. Think about the hue and cry over telemarketers over the years and the eventual creation of “do not call lists”. This was far too little too late, and efforts to protect the public have had little to no impact on telemarketers, let alone criminals who care little about regulations. If anything, we have seen even greater and bolder misuse of telecommunications.  

How to Protect Yourself

I will start with what you can do first to protect yourself, then I will look at what can be done on a broader public protection level. So, what can you do now to protect yourself? To begin you need to be thoughtful about protecting your image and voice from misuse by AI. Be proactive and take measures to safeguard your personal data and digital assets. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Limit Online Presence: Limit the amount of personal information, images, and voice recordings you share online. Be cautious about the type and amount of data you share on social media, websites, or other online platforms, as this data could be used by AI systems for various purposes.
  • Use Privacy Settings: Utilize privacy settings on social media and other online platforms to control who can access and use your images and voice recordings. Review and adjust your privacy settings to ensure that your personal data is only visible to the intended audience.
  • Watermark Your Images: Add watermarks or other forms of attribution to your images to indicate ownership and deter unauthorized use. This can make it more difficult for AI-generated content to be passed off as your original work.
  • Create a code word for your loved ones and close friends. If you get a call threatening harm to someone and they play their voice calling for help, you can ask for the code word. No code word? Hang up. 
  • Consider activating location services between you and loved ones so you can track each other on your smartphones. If you get a call alleging a kidnapping, check to see where they are. Call them and don’t be sucked in too quickly. We know things like kidnappings are rare and all the usual steps we take make such efforts by criminals difficult, further reducing the odds of this happening. 
  • Read Terms of Service: When using online platforms that involve uploading images or voice recordings, carefully review the terms of service and privacy policies. Understand how your data may be used by the platform and whether they have any rights or permissions to use your content. Understand the consequences of using those social media apps where you put in information and your photo to get a nickname and avatar image – there is almost always a data usage acceptance behind the scenes that you don’t know about unless you look carefully. Are a funny image and a new nickname that important?
  • Be Cautious with Voice Recordings: Be cautious when sharing your voice recordings, especially with new or unknown AI applications or services. Avoid sharing sensitive or private information through voice recordings and be mindful of the potential risks of voice cloning or voice manipulation.
  • Refuse to allow companies to verify you through voice recognition systems
  • Monitor for Misuse: Regularly monitor the internet for any unauthorized use of your images or voice recordings. You can use reverse image search tools or other monitoring techniques to identify any instances of AI-generated content that may be misusing your image or voice.

Broader Public Protection Efforts We Should Encourage

Now to the broader public protection efforts, that we should be advocating and encouraging now:

  • Robust Regulation: Implement robust regulatory frameworks that govern the development and use of AI. These frameworks should include guidelines, standards, and legal requirements that ensure transparency, accountability, and responsible use of AI technologies. Government and industry collaborations can play a crucial role in creating and enforcing such regulations.
  • Ethical Guidelines: Develop and adhere to ethical guidelines for AI development and use. This includes ensuring that AI systems are designed to respect human rights, avoid discrimination, and protect user privacy. Ethical considerations should be integrated into the entire AI development process, from design to deployment.
  • Education and Awareness: Educate individuals and organizations about the potential risks and challenges associated with AI. Raising awareness about the ethical implications of AI, including biases, data privacy concerns, and potential social impacts can help users make informed decisions and use AI responsibly.
  • Transparency of AI: Promote transparency in AI systems. Users should be able to understand how AI systems work, how they make decisions, and what data they use. This can help identify and address biases, errors, and unintended consequences of AI systems.
  • Data Privacy and Security: Protect data privacy and security in AI systems. Implement robust data protection measures, such as data encryption, access controls, and data anonymization, to ensure that data used in AI models are secure and not misused.

Remember that the landscape of AI and its applications is constantly evolving, and staying vigilant and proactive in protecting your image and voice from misuse is important in today’s digital world. The bigger picture of regulation is up to governments and regulators, but for now, do what you can to reduce the likelihood of being victimized.