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India Is Ground Zero for the Irresistible Appeal of Sanctioned Deepfakes

The biggest AI story this week was the showdown between Open AI and actress Scarlett Johansson over the use of a voice concerningly similar to hers after she had refused to collaborate with Open AI. This is quickly becoming a recurring typical deepfake story: someone steals the likeness of a famous person, and that person fights back.

Photo by Taylor Hill / WireImage

The less popular but perhaps more concerning story is the growth of sanctioned deepfakes. This week, WIRED detailed how deepfakes are playing a role in the upcoming Indian election. A large number of politicians are intentionally creating deepfake versions of themselves as a way to personalize messages directly to voters across the vast country.

It’s easy to see the appeal. Who hasn’t had a moment where they wish they could scale themselves? Heading into high-stakes situations like a national election, these sorts of deepfakes can change minds and swing voters. Thankfully, the growth is also attracting innovators trying to reduce the impact of deepfakes. Last week, I met an entrepreneur working on a platform called that was designed specifically to detect political deepfakes. The more growth we see in intentional and ill-intentioned deepfakes alike, the more we’ll need tools like this to help us separate truth from fabricated reality.

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Rohit is the author of 10 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.


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