Friday, May 24

Imran Khan uses AI to deliver victory speech in Pakistan

Imran Khan, Pakistan’s former prime minister, spent the country’s entire election campaign in prison, disqualified from running in what experts described as one of the least credible general elections in the country’s 76-year history.

But from behind bars in recent months, he has rallied his supporters with speeches that use artificial intelligence to replicate his voice, part of a technologically advanced strategy his party has implemented to evade repression by the military.

And on Saturday, when official tallies showed that candidates aligned with his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or PTI, won the most seats in a surprise result that threw the country’s political system into chaos , it was the voice of Khan’s AI that declared victory.

“I had full faith that you would all come to vote. You have lived up to my faith in you and your massive turnout has stunned everyone,” the soft, slightly robotic voice said in the minute-long video, which used historical images and footage of Mr Khan and contained a disclaimer about his origins as artificial intelligence The speech rejected Khan’s rival Nawaz Sharif’s claim of victory and urged supporters to defend the victory.

As concerns grow about the use of artificial intelligence and its power to mislead, particularly in elections, Khan’s videos offer an example of how AI can work to circumvent repression. But, experts say, fears about potential dangers are also increasing.

“In this case, it’s for a good end, perhaps an end that we would support: someone who is locked up on false corruption charges and who can talk to his supporters,” said Toby Walsh, author of “Faking It: Artificial Intelligence in a Human World” and professor at the University of New South Wales. “But at the same time, it’s undermining our trust in the things we see and hear.”

Mr Khan, a charismatic former cricket star, was ousted from power in 2022 and jailed last year, accused of leaking state secrets, among other charges. He and his supporters have claimed that military leaders orchestrated his removal, a charge they reject.

During the election campaign, officials barred its candidates from campaigning and censored news coverage of the party. In response, organizers have held online rallies on platforms such as YouTube and TikTok.

In December, his party began using artificial intelligence to spread Khan’s message, creating speeches based on notes he had passed to his lawyers from prison, according to party statements, and putting them into videos.

This is not the first time that political parties have used artificial intelligence.

In South Korea, the then-opposition People Power Party created an AI-based avatar of its presidential candidate, Yoon Suk Yeol, who virtually interacted with voters and spoke in slang and jokes to appeal to a younger demographic in view of the 2022 vote. (He won.)

In the United States, Canada and New Zealand, politicians have used artificial intelligence to create dystopian images to make their points or to reveal the technology’s potentially dangerous capabilities, as in a video featuring Jordan Peele and a fake Barack Obama.

During the 2020 state elections in Delhi, India, Manoj Tiwari, a candidate of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, created an AI-based deepfake of himself speaking the Haryanvi language to target voters in that demographic . Unlike Khan’s video, he did not appear to be clearly labeled as AI

“The integration of artificial intelligence, especially deepfakes, into political campaigns is not a passing trend but a trend that will continue to evolve over time,” said Saifuddin Ahmed, assistant professor at Nanyang Technological’s School of Communication and Information University of Singapore.