White House press shop adjusts to proliferation of AI deep fakes

Source: Politico | May 30, 2023 | Eli Stokols and Lauren Egan

While there are huge potential upsides with AI, the unanticipated bumps could be severe, especially amid the coming presidential election.

When an image showing what looked to be a bombing at the Pentagon started to spread online last week, the stock market dipped momentarily. Kayla Tausche, who covers the White House for CNBC, quickly started fact checking. Popping into Lower Press — the cluster of desks and offices behind the briefing room where many press aides work — she found principal deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton and asked about the reports.

“There was initially confusion about where it was coming from (I said ‘RT-style unconfirmed viral accounts’) and then exasperation,” Tausche told West Wing Playbook.

Dalton moved quickly, connecting with the Pentagon and National Security Council before telling Tausche there did not appear to have been a bombing. Once additional tweets suggested the phony image had been generated by artificial intelligence, Tausche followed up with Dalton to apologize for the diversion.

“She said, with visible frustration, that she is dealing with these types of inquiries on a daily basis, with greater and greater frequency,” Tausche added.

The White House press shop has found itself on one of the many front lines of the AI battles. Aides there, who collectively handle hundreds of media inquiries a day, have already been briefed by experts on the potential national security risks posed by images and videos that have been altered using AI, according to an administration official.


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