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Bernard Marr

Bernard Marr is a world-renowned futurist, influencer and thought leader in the fields of business and technology, with a passion for using technology for the good of humanity. He is a best-selling author of over 20 books, writes a regular column for Forbes and advises and coaches many of the world’s best-known organisations. He has a combined following of 4 million people across his social media channels and newsletters and was ranked by LinkedIn as one of the top 5 business influencers in the world.

Bernard’s latest books are ‘Future Skills’, ‘The Future Internet’, ‘Business Trends in Practice’ and ‘Generative AI in Practice’.

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Bernard Marr ist ein weltbekannter Futurist, Influencer und Vordenker in den Bereichen Wirtschaft und Technologie mit einer Leidenschaft für den Einsatz von Technologie zum Wohle der Menschheit. Er ist Bestsellerautor von 20 Büchern, schreibt eine regelmäßige Kolumne für Forbes und berät und coacht viele der weltweit bekanntesten Organisationen. Er hat über 2 Millionen Social-Media-Follower, 1 Million Newsletter-Abonnenten und wurde von LinkedIn als einer der Top-5-Business-Influencer der Welt und von Xing als Top Mind 2021 ausgezeichnet.

Bernards neueste Bücher sind ‘Künstliche Intelligenz im Unternehmen: Innovative Anwendungen in 50 Erfolgreichen Unternehmen’

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Will All Content Soon Be Fake?

2 April 2024

Thanks to AI, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to know when we are looking at something that exists in the real world and when we’re looking at a computer-generated image. The same is true for sounds and videos, as generative AI tools become increasingly sophisticated and capable of creating content that can fool us.

Sometimes it doesn’t even take AI – as we saw recently with the fuss over Princess Katherine’s photoshopped family snaps. The simple fact is it’s becoming easier to generate pictures, text, video or audio of anything we want – whether or not it exists, and whether or not it’s an accurate reflection of reality.

This leaves us faced with the possibility that one day – perhaps soon – there will be no need for “real” content captured and recorded from the real world. For most image, video or aural content that we consume, it will be cheaper, easier and quicker to simply tell a computer to make it for us.

This might seem shocking and could seem to imply the redundancy of a huge number of human jobs – from writers and illustrators to actors, voiceover artists, instrumentalists and animators.

No matter what savings it might seem to offer in terms of time, resources and money, is this a future anyone wants?

So, let’s take a look at some of the issues around this huge proliferation of “fake” content, that’s only going to increase, and some of the effects its likely to have on society.

Will All Content Soon Be Fake? | Bernard Marr

First, What Do We Mean By Fake?

For the purpose of this article, I am going to use the term “fake” content to mean anything that isn’t produced by humans or is altered from its source material by computers.

This isn’t just about generative AI. It also includes the use of filters that can alter our perception of reality – to the point of having damaging effects on mental health.

Deepfakes are at the more high-tech end of the spectrum. These are so-called because they harness deep learning neural networks to create convincing but utterly fabricated content. Think Deep Fake Tom Cruise or the more recent Pope in A Puffer Jacket.

Criminals have already used this technology to commit financial fraud by mimicking the voice of a company CEO and convincing an employee to transfer millions of dollars into their account. And deepfakes have been used to fabricate statements from politicians in order to undermine democratic processes and spread fear and disinformation.

Of course, not all fake content is criminal. There are some notably ill-advised examples like the recently-viral Willy’s Chocolate Experience but you probably only have to glance at your social media feed to see AI-generated content and images are increasingly becoming an everyday thing.

Media And Reporting

Advertising and entertainment might be seen as acceptable outlets for computer-generated or edited content, when it’s done in an ethical way. However, it poses serious concerns for news organizations and even democratic processes.

The Princess Katherine affair showed us that the media are aware of the threat. The image being withdrawn so quickly by three news outlets is not something that’s happened before, to my knowledge. It suggests the media understand the impact that publishing non-authentic content could have on their reputations, and are already putting safeguards in place.

There are two challenges here. First, journalists need to develop rigorous methods for verifying sources. This is only likely to become more difficult as the amount of synthetic content being pumped into the world grows.

Secondly, they must develop ways of convincing an increasingly skeptical audience that “real” content is genuine. For many people, it will become more and more tempting to simply dismiss anything they don’t like or agree with as fake news.

In fact, I can see that a lot of people will find themselves becoming a lot more skeptical, as they adjust to a world where even evidence we see with own eyes can’t necessarily be trusted.

Legislation And Education

On March 13th, 2024, the EU adopted the Artificial Intelligence Act, which contains requirements for artificial or manipulated images, audio and video content to be clearly labelled as such.

It's the first law of its kind anywhere in the world, but we have yet to see how it will be enforced and how practical it will be in reality. After all, the act applies to businesses, so individuals can still create whatever they want and pass it off as genuine. It’s unlikely, for example, to stem the flood of AI-generated non-consensual pornography and nudity that celebrities, including Taylor Swift, have become victims of (as well as probably thousands of less famous people who are less likely to make the news.)

In the end, though, I believe education will prove to be just as important as regulation. Developing an understanding of the risks of this new era, as well as of the methods and motivations of those who might try to turn uncertainty to their advantage, will make us more capable of avoiding the pitfalls. Common sense and critical thinking skills (would the Pope really wear a jacket that looked like that?) will be just as useful as any of the high-tech solutions that are likely to appear as the issues around what’s real and what’s fake become more pressing.

The Future Of Content?

In the AI era, the barriers to content creation are dramatically lowered. Rather than an end to human creativity, I expect we will see humans and machines collaborating to create content in new ways.

One way of looking at it is that you no longer have to be a fantastic writer or designer to use words or pictures to communicate great ideas. And that’s likely to mean there will be a whole lot more great ideas flying around.

The risks to jobs are real, though. Businesses will inevitably find synthetic content attractive. But those that rely on it to the point of excluding humans from the creative process will find themselves losing the competitive edge and identity that talented humans foster with their work.

And there will always be those who take advantage of how easy it’s become to create anything, in order to spread fear, uncertainty or confusion.

But I think society will adapt to meet these challenges – whether this means becoming better at knowing when we are being lied to or tricked or placing more value on content that’s authentic and human.

There will always be a place in society for human-created content that accurately reflects the real world, with all its ugliness and imperfections. But the most exciting new content will be one that melds meaningful human experiences with digital innovation in ways that enrich our lives just as music, film, and books have done throughout human history.

Business Trends In Practice | Bernard Marr
Business Trends In Practice | Bernard Marr

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Bernard Marr is a world-renowned futurist, influencer and thought leader in the fields of business and technology, with a passion for using technology for the good of humanity.

He is a best-selling author of over 20 books, writes a regular column for Forbes and advises and coaches many of the world’s best-known organisations.

He has a combined following of 4 million people across his social media channels and newsletters and was ranked by LinkedIn as one of the top 5 business influencers in the world.

Bernard’s latest book is ‘Generative AI in Practice’.

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