Maduro denies using artificial intelligence in a political campaign
(CNN) – Interrogated Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro joined the contentious debate on Wednesday over allegations of artificial intelligence being used for disinformation in Venezuela. The president criticized a note published in the Spanish newspaper El País asserting that avatars posing as news anchors spread false and unconfirmed information about the economic situation of the South American country.
Maduro reacted sarcastically, emphasizing that he was a robot while imitating the mechanical movement of these creations. “They accuse us of being robots, that we don’t exist… No, it’s not artificial intelligence, it’s popular intelligence, it’s revolutionary intelligence.”
CNN was able to verify that there are no such telecasts and that it’s not a real newscast either. On the Synthesia website, CNN has identified Andy, Thomas, and Emma as avatars that serve any user who wants to create content.
These three avatars are the same ones that appear in videos about Venezuela’s supposed economic recovery, and they were posted by news housean alleged agency that appears to have only had a YouTube account since January 26 this year.
CNN has made efforts, so far unsuccessfully, to contact those responsible for the account. It is also not clear who is financing the campaign. Similarly, CNN has contacted Synthesia to find out more about this work and whether its client is the government of Venezuela. There was no response.
CNN also asked the Venezuelan government if it was linked to these videos, but it has not yet responded.
The story of this ups and downs, which told of Venezuela’s supposed economic recovery without citing numbers, went viral this week and highlighted concerns by journalists and experts about the use of artificial intelligence to spread propaganda and disinformation in a country with a very weak system. for independent media.
For example, the NGO Cazadores de Fake News explained that videos featuring avatars generate more confusion. “First, a false source called ‘House of News’ is created, which is not a newscast but pretends to be one, and a false anchor is also created to give it credibility. It’s a common misinformation practice,” added its director, Adrian Gonzalez.
For his part, the coordinator of the C-Informa Alliance, Andres Canizales, confirmed in an interview with CNN that making these videos is “neither too expensive, nor too difficult, nor excessively slow.” He said it is a tool now within the reach of not only governments but any other country trying to disinform.
Managing Editor Factchecked.comTamua Calzadilla emphasized that what we are seeing is an improvement in disinformation techniques and that this is nothing but deep falsification. Calzadilla described it as “a manipulation through digital technologies such as artificial intelligence to create moving images with voices and characters that are not real but appear as such to confuse and deceive the audience.”
Victor Amaya, director of the newspaper Tal cual and Espaja.com, believes that this type of campaign “makes more noise in public conversations in Venezuela”. “If a person does not trust anything that happens on the networks, he does not trust everyone. Of the most standardized media, of those that are not new, of those that are new.”
The story of the symbolic characters Andy and Thomas rather tells of the economic recovery of Venezuela. This optimism contradicts Ecoanalítica’s reports. In January this year, according to the company, there was a 17.5% decrease in the sales volume index compared to the same month in 2022.