With the rise of AI fakes these past few years, people are becoming worried that this technology is being used, or will be used, to spread false information around the internet. It has only been a worry, with very little evidence that this is actually happening, but recently Associated Press came out with a report that may have changed that.
The report that AP came out with talks about a would-be spy to trick important contacts on LinkedIn by using an AI-generated profile picture.
The fake profile, which was under the names Katie Jones, connected with a bunch of policy experts in Washington. Some of these experts were a senator’s aide, a deputy assistant secretary of state, and Paul Winfree, an economist currently being considered for a seat on the Federal Reserve.
This espionage using LinkedIn is very low-risk and very common. The US and Europe are mainly worried about the large-scale operations in China right now. Director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center, William Evanina said, “Instead of dispatching spies to some parking garage in the US to recruit a target, it’s more efficient to sit behind a computer in Shanghai and send out friend requests to 30,000 targets.”
Something that is different about this use of AI, is that “Katie Jones” used a method called generative adversarial network (or GAN) to create the profile picture.
This method has become extremely popular, and easy, in the past few years. Using an AI fake adds more protection than if spies were to just randomly select stock photos or photos from social media. Since each image is unique, reverse-image tracing technology can not trace the source the image.
Now, these images are very real looking when you first look at them. But if you take a closer look you can see some things that are off about them. When taking a look at Katie Jones there are strange streaks on her cheek and her ear. Her face is a bit asymmetrical and there is no distinct background, as well as blurring around her hair. Many experts confirmed that this image of “Katie Jones” was most definitely created with AI.
The danger isn’t with AI fakes themselves, but the inattention people pay towards things. Paul Winfree, the economist and would-be Federal Reserve board member, said, “I’m probably the worst LinkedIn user in the history of LinkedIn … I literally accept every friend request that I get.”