AI’s Growing Challenge in Detecting Fake Images

As former President Donald Trump faced a 34-count indictment in Manhattan criminal court, fabricated images of him circulated on social media. Some of the images included fake mug shots, which Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign used to advertise a T-shirt that could be purchased online. Other images that have gone viral include a fabricated image of Pope Francis wearing a white puffer jacket. These images were generated using artificial intelligence (AI), raising concerns about the sophistication and accessibility of AI-powered tools.

Experts are alarmed by the hyper-realism of these images, which can impact the way people see the world without critical examination. Synthetic media experts are also concerned about the ease of use and accessibility of these tools, as well as the improved photo-realism and ability to produce large volumes of content. A commercial arms race between AI companies is contributing to the rapid development of these tools and the lack of safeguards.

To limit access to bad actors, companies creating AI technology should create friction, such as requiring bank details or verifying users’ identities. The focus should be on making detection tools widely available, rather than putting all the pressure on the public to identify AI-generated media. The creative power of AI will be more distributed and available, but guardrails must be put in place to ensure these tools are not misused.