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In researching AI consultants, I got here throughout a deepfake. It wasn’t apparent at first, given his seemingly legit profile and engagement on social networks. But after seeing the identical creepy AI-generated photograph of Dr. Lance B. Eliot everywhere in the net, it was clear that he wasn’t an actual individual. So I adopted him and realized his grift.
The ever-present Dr. Lance B. Eliot
Eliot has over 11,000 followers on LinkedIn and we now have two connections in frequent. Each have 1000’s of LinkedIn followers and many years of expertise in AI with roles spanning investor, analyst, keynote, columnist and CEO. LinkedIn members have interaction with Eliot regardless that all his posts are repetitive thread-jacking that result in his many Forbes articles.
On Forbes, Eliot publishes each one to a few days with practically similar headlines. After studying a number of articles, it’s apparent the content material is AI-generated tech jargon. One of many greatest points with Eliot’s in depth Forbes portfolio is that the location limits readers to 5 free tales a month till they’re directed to buy a $6.99-a-month or $74.99-a-year subscription. This will get sophisticated now that Forbes has formally put itself up for sale with a price ticket within the neighborhood of $800 million.
Eliot’s content material can also be accessible behind a Medium paywall, which fees $5 a month. And a skinny profile of Eliot seems in Cision, Muckrack and the Sam Whitmore Media Survey, paid media providers which are costly and relied upon by a overwhelming majority of PR professionals.
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Then there’s the sale of Eliot’s books on-line. He sells them via Amazon, fetching just a little over $4 per title although Walmart gives them for much less. On Thriftbooks, Eliot’s pearls of knowledge promote for round $27, which is a deal in comparison with the $28 price ticket on Porchlight. A protected wager is that e-book gross sales are pushed by faux evaluations. But a number of dissatisfied people bought the books and gave them low scores, calling out the content material for being repetitive.
The harm to huge manufacturers and particular person identities
After clicking a hyperlink to Eliot’s Stanford College profile, I used one other browser and landed on the actual Stanford web site, the place a search on Eliot produced zero outcomes. A side-by-side comparability exhibits the branded colour pink on Eliot’s Stanford web page was not the identical shade because the genuine web page.
The same expertise occurred on Cornell’s ArXiv web site. With only a slight tweak to the Cornell emblem, one in every of Eliot’s tutorial papers was posted, crammed with typos and extra low-quality AI-generated content material offered in a typical tutorial analysis paper format. The paper cited an intensive listing of sources, together with Oliver Wendell Holmes, who apparently printed in an 1897 version of the Harvard Regulation Evaluation — three years after he died.
These not enthusiastic about studying Eliot’s content material could make their option to his podcasts, the place a bot spouts meaningless lingo. An excerpt from one listener’s overview reads, “If you happen to like listening to somebody learn phrase for phrase from a script of paper, it is a nice podcast for you.”
The URL posted subsequent to Eliot’s podcasts promotes his web site about self-driving automobiles, which initially led to a useless finish. A refresh on the identical hyperlink led to Techbrium, one in every of Eliot’s faux employer web sites.
It’s wonderful how Eliot is ready to do all of this and nonetheless carve out time to talk at government management summits organized by HMG Technique. The faux occasions function big-name tech firms listed as companions, with a who’s who of advisors and actual bios of executives from Zoom, Adobe, SAP, ServiceNow and the Boston Crimson Sox, amongst others.
Attendance at HMG occasions is free for senior expertise executives, offered they register. In keeping with HMG’s phrases and situations, “If for some purpose you might be unable to attend, and unable to ship a direct report in your stead, a no-show price of $100 can be charged to cowl prices of meals and repair employees.”
The price of ignoring deepfakes
A deeper dig into Eliot led to a two-year-old Reddit thread calling him out and rapidly veering into hard-to-follow conspiracy theories. Eliot is probably not an anagram or tied to the NSA, however he’s one of many hundreds of thousands of deepfakes getting cash on-line which are getting more durable to identify.
Trying on the monetary ripple results of deepfakes raises questions on who’s accountable after they generate income for themselves and their companions. That’s to not point out the price of downloading malware, concentrating on faux prospects and paying for spammy online marketing hyperlinks.
Arguably, a eager eye can spot a deepfake from the fuzzy or lacking background, unusual hair, odd-set eyes, and robotic voices that don’t sync with their mouths. But when this have been a common fact, the price of deepfakes wouldn’t be billions in losses as they generate monetary scams and impersonate actual individuals.
AI has not solved all the problems that make it laborious to identify a deepfake’s lack of authenticity, however is actively fixing them. It’s this sort of outing-the-deepfakes article that helps AI study and enhance. This leaves the duty of recognizing deepfakes to people, forcing them to be vigilant about who they let into their networks and lives.
Kathy Keating is an actual individual and founding father of ProsInComms, a PR consultancy.
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